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Title: Legends and Satires from Mediæval Literature
Author: Various
Language: English
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[Illustration: PARADISE

From Fra Angelico's "The Last Judgment" (early fifteenth century)]









 The Athenæum Press

 · BOSTON · U.S.A.


This volume of translations is prepared especially for the use of
college sophomores who are studying English poetry of the fourteenth
century, but it is hoped that other readers may be interested in these
old legends. Ideally, it would be better for students to read the
original texts, but every teacher knows how difficult it is to provide
texts in this field. The various Middle English Readers are not frankly
popular in their choice of subject matter, and the publications of
learned societies are far too expensive to be available for classroom
work. It does not seem, therefore, entirely an offense against
scholarship to offer students a volume that will serve humbly as
companion to "Piers Plowman," "The Pearl," Chaucer's poems, and various
romances and lyrics which are studied in carefully edited texts.

The modern translations are literal, but a certain freedom has been
used in reshaping sentences and in omitting conventional phrases when
they proved too monotonous in their repetitions. Quite enough _tags_
and awkward constructions have been preserved to illustrate fully the
style of mediæval clerks.

Acknowledgment is made for help received from Gaston Paris's "La
littérature française au moyen âge," and from W. H. Schofield's
"English Literature from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer." Miss Marion
E. Markley has contributed two translations from Old French, and has
given many helpful suggestions regarding details.

      M. H. S.

  Wellesley, Massachusetts





Of Man's Body      3
Of Man's Soul      4


The Amorous Contention of Phillis and Flora       7
The Pleading of the Rose and of the Violet      24


The Purgatory of Saint Patrick      33


The Life of Saint Brandon      53
The Life of Saint Margaret      73


A Miracle of God's Body      81
A Miracle of the Virgin      83
The Translation of Saint Thomas of Canterbury      87


An Extract from "The Castle of Love"      95


Lion, Eagle, Whale, Siren      101


Diamond, Sapphire, Amethyst, Geratite, Chelidonius,
Coral, Heliotrope, Pearl, Pantheros; Symbolism of
the Carbuncle; Symbolism of the Twelve Stones      111


Concerning Miracle Plays, Games, and Minstrelsy      119


The Song of the University of Paris      125
The Land of Cockaygne      128
The Complaint of the Husbandman      131
Sir Penny      134


Sir Orfeo      141


Frontispiece      161
Proem      161
Debate      161
Vision       163
Saints' Lives      165
Pious Tales      167
Allegory      168
Bestiary      169
Lapidary      170
Homily      172
Satire      172
Lay      174


To create anew the walls and towers and gardens of the mediæval
world is a comparatively easy task, now that we have so many aids to
visualizing that departed age, but it is not so easy to make live again
the thoughts and sentiments and beliefs of a vanished generation. All
our study of history is valueless unless it brings a clearer revelation
of the pulsing, ardent life of humanity. We search old records and
old literature that we may find the true image of a world whose hopes
and fears and loves prove to us the slow evolution of a progressive
civilization in which all human beings share. Out of the failures and
the doubts of one age comes the quicker power of another, and true
progress looks both backward and forward. To cherish old traditions is
both a duty and an inspiration.

The reader who turns his face toward the world of mediæval England
and France, seeking to know the spirit which animated our ancestors
of six centuries ago, must recognize in plowman, hermit, knight,
friar, or minstrel the fundamental fact that their life was actual and
real, not a mere tissue of mediæval costume and mechanical movements.
In order to understand that epoch it is essential for one to study
in detail the works which picture the life of the day. The world of
chivalry, with its brilliant pageantry and its vows of courtesy,
loyalty, and liberality, is revealed in the pages of Froissart and in
the many metrical romances, where various aspects of knightly life
are described. "King Horn," "Guy of Warwick," "Libeaus Desconus," "Sir
Eglamour," "The Squire of Low Degree," and others tell the story of

Another world is represented in "Piers Plowman," where the oppression
of the poor by the arrogant rich and the corruption of church and state
are described in racy vernacular by one whose soul was on fire with
devotion to truth and justice. Social problems are enunciated, and the
misery wrought by human ignorance and selfishness is depicted in satire
keen, shrewd, and piercing.

Chaucer, the supreme poet of the fourteenth century in England,
portrays a world of normal folk who represent all classes and
conditions except the very high and the very low. While, in certain
ways, Chaucer's work is easier to read and understand than that of any
of his contemporaries, students often read it very superficially and
fail to recognize the deeply rooted traits which show that Chaucer
was the child of his epoch. We find in the English poet traces of the
influence of Continental life and literature; we see him reading the
classics of Rome, of Florence, and of Paris; but he was also always
intimately familiar with the minor literature popular among his own

Since an understanding of Chaucer is a vivid introduction to the later
Middle Ages, it is essential for students of that period to have some
acquaintance with the common literary types of Chaucer's day. The
translations gathered together in this book are representative of
these types,—debate, vision, allegory, saints' legends, pious tales,
satire, and lay. Few examples of secular literature are given, for
the most satisfactory way to approach the secular poetry of the time
is to read parts, at least, of the "Romance of the Rose," which has
been translated, very freely, by F. S. Ellis.[1] This long poem is a
compendium of the ideals, manners, and tastes of the fashionable world
of France and of England. The machinery of dream, personification, and
allegory; the descriptions of nature and of dress; the attitude towards
the god of love and his fabled court; the satire; and the pedantry are
all highly significant facts in the history of literature. Knowing
this romance, one knows the heart of thirteenth century Paris. The
Troubadours,[2] too, should be studied for the sake of understanding
one side of lyric poetry. All this secular poetry, however, does not
account for Chaucer, who was indebted also to a stream of influence
coming from religious legends and allegories. The deeper side of his
nature responded to the appeal of pious tales and records of saintly
lives; superstitions about nature and about God attracted his interest,
and stirred him to that effective contemplation which resulted
in clear, sane judgments. Religious poetry was, first and last,
familiar matter to the great court poet, and we should recognize its
characteristics and its sovereign appeal.

We must remember that the world of the Middle Ages was essentially
and positively Catholic. From birth to death the layman was under
the guardianship of Holy Church, and bound by the most solemn vows
to perfect obedience. Yet, although there seems to be a certain
conventionality in his performance of these duties, there was a very
lively concern regarding that other world toward which he was moving.
Close to the spiritual ecstasy of such lives as that of Saint Francis,
or of Saint Catherine, or of the uncanonized Richard Rolle, there was a
dim, frightened foreboding that perhaps Evil might prove the triumphant
force. Love of God was no stronger than fear of the devil. Tales of the
black magic of Satan as well as of the white magic of the church were
eagerly listened to by a people quick to show their interest in any
manifestation of the supernatural. Crude and childish as their faiths
and superstitions may seem to a more liberal age, there is something
impressive in their deep conviction of hidden truths. When we lose all
sense of mystery and of wonder and are wholly free from any illusions,
life becomes singularly vapid, for the very key to spiritual existence
is a sense of infinite meanings forever challenging, baffling, and
dominating our daily life.

    "But God forbede but men shulde leve
    Wel more thing then men han seen with ÿe!"

In the legends and allegories and satires represented in these pages
the reader will find strange and fervent faiths as well as homely
pictures of the world as it is. A vigorous use of the concrete is
everywhere evident; abstractions seem not to exist without some
physical traits to make them real to the ordinary man. Intensely
picturesque and objective are the descriptions of hell and of heaven,
of the lands visited by Brandon, of Saint Paul's otter, of the miracles
of Saint Thomas, of the virtues of the coral, and of the traits of
Rose and of Violet. To any readers there is unending charm in the
natural, simple style of setting forth these details which force vivid
conceptions upon the imagination.

Growing up in a world of brilliant court life and becoming familiar
with a literary art which placed emphasis upon the concrete, Chaucer
was inevitably destined to be a supreme master of specific, suggestive
realism. He loved every aspect of existence, and he wrought his
descriptions with an art precise and joyous. The French poets and the
English preachers taught him the secret of appealing to the popular
love of visible and audible images. Yet his greatest power is that
dramatic portrayal of human experience, a presentation whose quick
humour and overflowing sympathy have made him beloved by generations.
Impatient of affectation in art, in manner, or in spiritual matters, he
taught sincerity. His humour, poise, and fearless, keen mentality will
always have their healing and wonder-working qualities.






As I said before, the King of Might would be worshipped by two kinds
of beings, angel and man. Adam was created, therefore, to make the
tenth order, which Lucifer tried to destroy. Adam was not made of earth
alone, but of four elements: his blood of water, his flesh of earth,
his heat of fire, and his breath of air. His head has two eyes. The sky
has sun and moon that, as men know, are set for sight; so man's eyes
serve as sun and moon of light. Seven chief stars are fixed in heaven,
and man's head has seven holes, which, if you think about it, you may
find with little labor. This breath that man draws so often betokens
the wind that blows aloft, of which thunder and lightning are created,
as breath is bred in the breast with a cough. All waters sink into the
sea, so man's stomach drinks all liquors. His feet bear him up from
falling, as the earth upholds all things. The upper fire gives man his
sight, the upper air his power of hearing, the under wind gives him his
breath, the earth gives him his taste, feeling, and touch; the hardness
of bone that man has comes to him from the nature of stones. From the
earth grow trees and grass; and from man's flesh, nails and hair. With
dumb beasts man has his share of things which he likes ill or well. Of
these things, I have heard said, Adam's body was put together. For this
reason that you have heard, man is called the lesser world.


But you have not yet heard the story of how man's soul was wrought.
A ghostly light man says it is that God has made in His likeness; as
print of a seal is fixed in wax, so man has God's likeness. He has
wrought him as friend and companion, since nothing is so dear to Him.
His Godhead is the Trinity, so a soul has properly three powers: the
perception of what is, was, and shall be. It has pure understanding of
what is seen and is unseen; it has, also, wisdom of will to take the
good and leave the evil. All the powers that may be dwell in that Holy
Trinity. That soul which is cleansed from sin has all virtues. As God,
who is one and three, may by no kind of creature be understood nor
overtaken, but He overtakes each one, so the soul, without spot, is
unseen, though it has sight of all things. To see the soul you have no
power. Now have I shown you how two things hold man together;—the soul,
a thing spiritual, and the body, which is flesh and skin.

      Translated by M. H. S.





    In flowry season of the yeere,
    And when the firmament was cleere,
    When Tellus hierbales paynted were
    With issue of disparent[5] chere.

    When th'usher to the morne did rise,
    And drive the darknes from the skyes,
    Sleepe gave their visuale liberties
    To Phillis and to Floras eyes.

    To walke these Ladyes liked best,
    For sleepe rejects the wounded brest,
    Who joyntly to a meade addrest,
    Their sportance with the place to feast.

    Thus made they amorous accesse,
    Both virgins and both princesces;
    Fayre Phillis wore a liberal tresse,
    But Flora hirs in curls did dresse.

    Nor in their ornamentall grace,
    Nor in behaviour were they bace;
    Their yeeres and mindes in egall[6] place
    Did youth and his effects embrace.

    A little yet unlike they proove,
    And somewhat hostilely they strove:
    A scholler Floras minde did moove,
    But Phillis likt a souldiers love.

    For stature and fresh bewties flowrs,
    There grew no difference in their dowrs,
    All thinges were free to both their powrs
    Without and in their courtly bowrs.

    One vow they made religiously,
    And were of one societie;
    And onely was their impacie[7]
    The forme of eithers phantasie.[8]

    Now did a timely gentle gale
    A little whisper through the dale,
    Where was a place of festivale,
    With verdant grasse adorned all.

    And in that meade-prowd-making grasse,
    A river, like to liquid glasse,
    Did in such sound-full murmure passe,
    That with the same it wanton was.

    Hard by this brooke a pyne had seate,
    With goodly furniture compleate,
    To make the place in state more greate
    And lessen the inflaming heate.

    Which was with leaves so bewtifide
    And spread his brest so thicke and wide,
    That all the sunnes estranged pride
    Sustainde repulse on every side.

    Fayre Phillis by the foorde did sit,
    But Flora far remov'd from it,
    The place in all thinges sweete was fit,
    Where herbage did their seates admit.

    Thus milde they opposite were set,
    And coulde not their affects forget,
    Loves arrows and their bosoms met,
    And both their harts did passion fret.

    Love close and inward shrowds his fires,
    And in faint words firme sighs enspires,
    Pale tinctures change their cheeks attires,
    But modest shame entoombs their ires.

    Phillis did Flora sighing take,
    And Flora did requitale make:
    So both together part the stake,
    Till foorth the wound and sicknes brak.

    In this chang'd speech they long time staide,
    The processe all on Love they laide,
    Love in their harts their lookes bewraide,
    At last in laughter Phillis saide:

    "Brave souldier," sayd she, "O my Paris,
    In fight, or where so ere he tarries,
    The souldiers lyfe lyfes glory carries,
    Onely worth Venus household quarries."[9]

    While she hir warr-friende did prefer,
    Flora lookt coye and laught at her;
    And did this adverse speech aver:
    "Thou shouldst have said, I love a begger.

    "But what doth he my hart embraces?
    A thing create, that all things passes,
    Whom nature blest with all hir graces;
    O clerkes, in you blisse all blisse places."

    This hard speech Phillis hardly takes,
    And thus she Floras pacience crakes;
    "Thou lov'st a man pure love forsakes,
    That God his godles bellie makes.

    "Rise, wretch, from this grosse extasie,
    A clerke sole epicure thinke I.
    No elegance can bewtifie
    A shapeles lump of gluttonie.

    "His hart sweete Cupids tents rejects,
    That onely meate and drinke affects:
    O Flora, all mens intelects
    Know souldiers vows, shun those respects.

    "Meere helpes for neede his minde suffiseth,
    Dull sleepe and surfetts he despiseth,
    Loves trump his temples exerciseth,
    Cooradge and love, his life compriseth.

    "Who with like band our loves combineth?
    Even Natures law thereat repineth;
    My love in conquests palme-wreths shineth,
    Thine feasts deforms, mine fight refineth."

    Flora hir modest face enrosed,
    Whose second smile more fayre disclosed,
    At length with mooving voyce she losed
    What art in her storde brest reposed.

    "Phillis, thy fill of speech thou hast,
    Thy witt with pointed wings is grast,
    Yet urdgest not a trueth so vast,
    That hemlocks lillies have surpast.

    "Ease loving clerkes thou holdst for cleere,
    Servants to sloth and bellie cheere;
    So envie honor would enpheere,[10]
    But give me eare, Ile give thee answere.

    "So much enjoyes this love of myne,
    He nere envies, or hirs, or thyne;
    Household stuffe, honny, oyle, corne, wine,
    Coyne, jewels, plate, serve his designe.

    "Such pleasing store have clerks bylying,
    As none can fayne their dignifying:
    There, Love clasps his glad wings in flying,
    Love ever firme, Love never dying.

    "Loves stings in him are still sustained,
    Yet is my clerke nor pinde nor pained:
    Joy hath no part in him restrained,
    To whom his love beares thoughts unfained.

    "Palled, and leane, is thy elected,
    Poore, scarce with cloths or skin contected,
    His sinews weake, his brest dyjected,
    For nothing causde maks nought effected.

    "Approching neede is Loves meere hell,
    Souldiers want gyfts to woo loves well:
    But clerks give much, and still heaps swell,
    Their rents and riches so excell."

    "Right well thou knowst" (Phillis replide)
    "What in both arts and lyves abide,
    Likely, and clenly thou hast lide:
    But thus our difference is not tride.

    "When holy-day the whole world cheeres,
    A clerke lifes modest figure beares:
    His crowne is heaven, black weeds he weares,
    And showes a mind halfe dround in teares.

    "None is so poore of sence or eyne,
    To whom a souldier doth not shyne:
    At ease, like sprightles beasts lives thyne,
    Helms, and barb'd horse, do weare out myne.

    "Mine low with armes makes foe-towrs ly,
    And when on foote he fight doth try,
    While his fayre squire his horse holds by,
    Mine thinks on me, and then they dy.

    "He turns, fight past, and foes inchased,
    And lookes on me with helme unlaced,
    Lifts his strong lyms, and brest strait graced,
    And saies, kyss-blesse me, O hart-placed."

    Flora her wrath in pants did spye,
    And many a dart at hir lets flye:
    "Thou canst not make with heaven-reacht crye
    A camel pierce a needels eye.

    "False goes for true, for honny, gall,
    To make a clerke a souldiers thrall;
    Doth love to souldiers coradge call?
    No, but the neede they toyle withall.

    "Fayre Phillis, would thy love were wise,
    No more the trueth to contrarise!
    Hunger and thirst bow souldiers thies,
    In which Deaths path and Plutos lies.

    "Sharpe is the wasting bane of warre
    The lot is hard, and strayneth farre:
    The lyfe is stooping, doubts doth jarre,
    To get such things as needefull are.

    "Knewst thou the case, thou wouldst not say,
    Shaven haire sham'd clerks, or black aray:
    Worne higher honors to display,
    And that all states they oversway.

    "All things should to my clerke encline,
    Whose crowne sustains th' impereal signe;
    He rules and payes such friendes as thine,
    And lay must stoope to men divine.

    "Thou sayst that sloth a clerke disguiseth,
    Who I confesse base workes despiseth:
    But when from cares his free minde riseth,
    Heavens course and Naturs he compriseth.

    "Mine purple decks, thine maile bedighteth,
    Thine lives in war, mine peace delighteth,
    Olde acts of princes he resighteth,
    All of his friend thinks, seeks, and wrighteth.

    "What Venus can, or Loves wingd lord,
    First knowes my clerke, and brings me word:
    Musicke in cares doth mine afford,
    Thine joyes in rapine and the sword."

    Here speech and strife had both their ending,
    Phillis askt judgment, all suspending:
    Much stir they made, yet ceast contending;
    And sought a judge in homewards wending.

    With countnances that egale[11] beene,
    With egale majestie beseene:
    With egale voyce, and egale spleene,
    These virgins ward uppon the greene.

    Phillis a white robe bewtifide,
    Flora wore one of two hews dide:
    Phillis upon a mule did ride,
    Flora did back a horse of pride.

    The mule was that which being create,
    Neptune did feede, and subjugate:
    Which after fayre Adonis fate,
    He Venus sent to cheere hir state.

    This, she the queene of Iberine,
    Phillis fayre mother did resigne,
    Since she was given to workes divine,
    Whence Phillis had the mule in fine.

    Who of the trappings asks, and bit,
    The mule (though silver) champing it:
    Know all things were so richly fit,
    As Neptunes honor might admit.

    Then Phillis no decorid wanted,
    But rich and bewtious, all eyes daunted:
    Nor Floras vertue lesse enchaunted,
    Who on a welthy palfrey vaunted.

    Tamde with his raines, won heaven for lightnes,
    Exceeding fayre, and full of wightnes,[12]
    His brest art dectt with divers brightnes,
    For jeate blacke mixt with swans pure whightnes.

    Young and in dainty shape dygested,
    His lookes with pride, not rage, invested:
    His mayne thin haird, his neck high crested,
    Small eare, short head, and burly brested.

    His brode backe stoopt to this clerks-loved,
    Which with hir pressure nought was moved:
    Strait legd, large thighd, and hollow hoved,
    All Natures skill in him was proved.

    An ivorie seate on him had place,
    A hoope of golde did it imbrace,
    Graven: and the poitrell[13] did enchace
    A stone that star-like gave it grace.

    Inscription there allurde the eye,
    With many a wondrous misterie:
    Of ancient thinges made noveltie,
    That never man did yet descrie.

    The God of Rhetoriques nuptiall bowre,
    Adornd with every heavenly powre,
    The contract, and the mariage howre,
    And all the most unmeasurd dowre.

    No place was there that figurd nought,
    That could through all the world be sought:
    But more excesse of mervails wrought,
    Then might inceede[14] a humane thought.

    The skyll of Mulciber alone
    Engrav'd that admirable throne:
    Who looking stedfastly thereon,
    Scarse thought his hand such art had shone.

    The trappings wrought he not with ease,
    But all his payne employde to please:
    And left, to go in hand with these,
    The tardge of great Aeacides.[15]

    A styrrop for hir feete to presse,
    And bridle-bosses he did dresse,
    And added rains in worths excesse,
    Of his sweete spowses goulden tresse.

    Thus on their famouse cavalrye,
    These prince-borne damzels seemd to flye:
    Their soft young cheekebales to the eye
    Are of the fresh vermilion dye.

    So lillies out of scarlet peere,
    So roses of the vernall yeere,
    So shoote two wanton starrs y-feere[16]
    From the eternall burning spheere.

    The child-gods gracefull paradise,
    They joyntly purpose to invise:[17]
    And lovely emulations rise,
    In note of one anothers guise.

    Phillis to Flora, laughter led,
    And Flora Phillis answered:
    A merlin Phillis managed,
    A sparhawlke Flora caried.

    In little tyme these ladyes founde
    A grove with every pleasure crounde:
    At whose sweete entrie did resounde
    A foorde that flowrd that holy grounde.

    From thence the sweete-breathd winds convay
    Odors from every mirtle spray:
    And other flowrs, to whose aray
    A hundred harpes and timbrels play.

    All pleasurs studie can invent,
    The dames eares instantly present:
    Voyces in all sorts different,
    The foure parts, and the diapent.[18]

    Two tunes that from those voyces flie,
    With admirable harmonie:
    The tymbrell, harpe, and psalterie,
    Rejoyce in rapting symphonie.

    There did the vials voyce abounde,
    In musicke angel-like profounde:
    There did the phife dispredden rounde
    His songe in many a variant sounde.

    All birdes with tunefull bosoms sing,
    The blackbird makes the woods to ring:
    The thrush, the jay, and she[19] in spring
    Rues the past rape of Thraces king.

    Their shrill notes to the musicke plying,
    Then all the different flowrs descrying,
    The odors in abundance flying,
    Prov'd it the bowre of Loves soft-lying.

    The virgins something entered here,
    And sprinckled with a little feare,
    Their harts before that helde Love deare,
    In Cupids flames encreased were.

    And while each winged forester
    Their proper rumors[20] did prefer,
    Each virgins minde made waight on her
    Applauses apt and singuler.

    Deathles were he coulde there repose,
    Each path his spycie odor stroes:
    Of mirh and synamon there groes,
    And of our blessed Ladyes rose.

    Each tree hath there his severall blisse,
    In fruites that never season misse:
    Men may conceave how sweete Love is,
    By that celestiall court of his.

    The dauncing companies they see
    Of young men and of maydens free;
    Whose bodyes are as bright in blee,[21]
    As starrs illustrate bodyes bee.

    In which so mervaylous a guyse
    Of unexpected novelties,
    These virgins bosoms through their eyes
    Were daunted with a quicke surprise.

    Who stay their royall steads outright,
    And almost from their seates alight:
    Forgetting their endevors quight,
    With that proud rumors sweete affright.

    But when sad Philomene did straine
    Her rape-full-raving brest againe,
    These ladyes hearing hir complaine,
    Were reinflamd in every vaine.

    About the center of the spring,
    A secret place is where they sing,
    And use their supreme worshypping,
    Of Loves neare-darting fiery king.

    There many a two-shapt companie,
    Of faunes, nimphes, satyres, meete and plie
    The tymbrell and the psalterie,
    Before Loves sacred majestie.

    There beare they goblets bigg with wine,
    And coronets of flowrs combine:
    There nimphs and fauns demy-divine,
    Doth Bacchus teach to foote it fine.

    Who keepe true measure with their feete,
    That to the instruments do fleete:
    But olde Silenus playes not sweete
    In consort, but indents the streete.[22]

    The spring-sleepe did his temples lode,
    As on a long-eard asse he rode:
    Laughters excesse, to see him nod,
    Dissolv'd the bosome of the God.

    Fresh cups he ever cals uppon,
    In sounds of imperfection,
    With age and Bacchus overgon,
    They stop his voyces organon.

    Amongst this gamesome crew is seene,
    The issue of the Cyprian Queene,
    Whose head and shoulders fethered beene,
    And as the starrs his countnance sheene.

    In his left hand his bow he bare,
    And by his side his quiver ware:
    In powre he sits past all compare,
    And with his flames the worlde doth dare.

    A scepter in his hand he hild,
    With Chloris native flowrs untild,
    And nectars deathles odors stild,
    From his bright lookes the sunne did guild.

    The triple Graces there assist,
    Supporting with their brests commist,
    And knees that Tellus bosome kist,
    The challice of this amorist.

    These ladyes now approched neare,
    And worshipped exempt from feare
    Loves god: who was environd there
    With youth, that honord stiles did beare.

    Their joy is superexcellent,
    To see a court so confluent:
    Whom Cupid, seeing their intent,
    Doth with his greeting intervent.

    He askes the cause for which they came:
    They confidently tell the same:
    And he gives prayse to eyther dame,
    That durst so great a warre proclame.

    To both he spake to make some pause,
    Untyll their honorable cause,
    Profoundly wayde in every clause,
    Might be explande with all applause.

    He was a God which well they know,
    Rehearsall needes it not bestow:
    They light and rest, and playnely show,
    Where Love strives, Love wil maister grow.

    Love lawes and judges hath in fee,[23]
    Nature and use his judges bee:
    To whom his whole courts censures flee,
    Since past, and things to come, they see.

    These do the hart of justice trie,
    And show the courts severitie:
    In judgment, and strong customs eye,
    The clerke is fitst for venerie.[24]

    Gainst which the queenes but little strove,
    Since Loves high voyce did it approve:
    So both to their abodes remove:
    But as at first, rest firm in Love.

              Translated by George Chapman(?)


In the presence of Imagination, before whom in due course of law
actions are brought, an argument was one day commenced between the
Rose and the Violet. The matter, of which I treat, was most wisely
conducted. To set forth fully points, process, articles, and case, the
advocate of the Rose appeared first and began as follows:

"Violet! I am here to propound a question in behalf of my lady, lovely
Rose; I hereby announce to you, and intend likewise to proclaim and
sustain in all courts of the land, that Rose is of greater worth, more
desired, and more dearly esteemed than you are. That is just, for
indeed she adorns the season with her color, more delicate than purple
and crimson, and with her sweet fragrance. She lasts much longer in
her beauty than do you, Violet; and, red or white, she springs in the
pleasant month of May to draw all lovers out of their sadness. Then do
ladies and youths, lords, bachelors and maidens gather her flowers,
some making chaplets of them and others weaving garlands to adorn

At this point, the advocate of the Violet, who was very old, could no
longer keep silent, and broke in:

"O God! If I did not know how to speak, I might have to withdraw
from this argument, but, if it please God, I shall speak, and I
shall support the cause of Violet against Rose. Sir Advocate, I say
and affirm, in spite of your speech, that Violet is more joyfully
welcomed, more beloved, and more desired than Rose. Here is the cause;
now listen to the truth. When a winter full of frost and chill shall
have put to rout, by its prolonged stay, trees and fruits, leaves and
flowers, then men and women and children long for bright days, and
wish the springtime to come swiftly, when they will hear the singing
of larks and will find violets in orchards, gardens, and every pretty
close. There youths and maidens gather them and make gay chaplets, and
many put them under their pillows in token of delight and pleasure.
And when this sweet and fresh season of spring comes anew, you may see
many people fastening violets in fresh green sprays of gooseberry,
and arranging them so as to set off their beauty and fragrance. To
speak truly, Sir Advocate, one cannot do them too much honor. Now, I
pray you, sit down; for I would rest a little. But I will take up the
argument again, if, indeed, there be any further need of my services."

Each of the advocates seated himself, and Imagination set a day for
their return, for she wished to hear them further.

_Here follows how the Advocate of the Rose sets forth her Cause_

Now they have come to the appointed day; may it dawn happily, for I
would hear most gladly the order of their discourse. The advocate
of the Rose spoke first, for he was well versed in speaking, and he
addressed them as follows:

"Before Imagination, who is my sovereign lady, I here make protest
and vigorous complaint against the grievous charges with which Violet
oppresses us. When she wishes to detract from the power of the Rose,
white and red, she shows little discrimination, and her advocate
likewise, for as black differs from white so it is clear the Violet
differs from the Rose. I do not know who is counselling this advocate,
but certainly he is not endowed with good judgment; or if he is, it
does not appear in this case. Now, to silence him completely I will
give some details, that he may take counsel of them. First of all, I
will compare the red rose, by figure, to the sun, for the round sun,
when we see it rising at morning and setting at night, is in color not
at all variegated, but sanguine indeed, and deep red as the red rose.
There are yet further considerations why one should greatly honor the
Rose. You know that there are two kinds of grapes, from which are made
white wine and red, and with these wines the holy sacrament is solemnly
celebrated. I choose the white rose to stand for the white wine, and
for red wine the red rose. Indeed, they still cry in the streets, 'Come
buy the good wine _Rosette_.' Roses, white and red, have mysterious and
agreeable virtue, for from them is made a liquid, called rose water,
that is good for healthy folk, and necessary for those that are ill,
because it assuages strong fevers. It is refreshing to the face, and
to the mouth and the hands. Many, indeed, wish their pillows, be it
for sleeping or waking, may be scented with the fragrance of the Rose.
Consider where the Rose dwells. I call the rose-bush her house. God
set her there, in all reason, not shut up in a tower, but enclosed
about with sharp thorns so that the young goats that love to pasture on
violets and nibble the leaves and tender shoots shall not touch roses
nor buds."

With this, the advocate for the Rose was silent, having reviewed wisely
and well, it seemed, the case of the Rose, red and white. The court
adjourned for a little, until there was great impatience to know if the
advocate of the Violet, having heard the case for lovely Rose, would
return to the debate. Truly, you shall hear how he responded with much
wisdom. But I must write down his replies before I can recite them.

_Here follows how the Advocate of the Violet sustains her Cause_

"O Advocate for Violet, come forward, for they bring points of
opposition against you," said Imagination, "and you will have to make
reply to them, unless I am to dismiss the case."

The advocate answered, "Lady, I am all ready, by my soul, to reply, and
to do my duty, and to show that I have spoken truth. First of all, I
state, in plain prose, that I do not doubt the Rose may be beautiful
and good and wise and may have many ways and uses that are much to be
commended; but I should like to ask her advocate if his figure of the
sun is acceptable or quite truthful. The Rose is cool and moist, the
sun hot; now, in this point, his argument is false. However, let that
count for what it may. My sword is as sharpened for all thrusts as his.
He is foolish who evades his opponent when he can attack him. I have
both occasion and motive for challenging him, and so I do it. He has
just now compared the Rose to the sun; I assure him that I will not,
by a still worse figure, compare violets to the stars or the planets.
I will not strain his comparison farther, for that would be foolish.
But I will name them daughters of the round firmament, for they
have her own color, without white, black, red, or green. When clouds
came down from the heavens, the earth drank in their moisture and
conceived violets, so she holds them in deep affection. Blue signifies
steadfastness; he or she who wears it, remember, must have a heart
always firm and steadfast and strengthened. Violets are flowers of good
worth, fair to see and to wear. When ladies and maidens have fine gowns
or rich hangings for their beds, if they scent them with violets people
will say, 'This robe is sweet,' and will enjoy the odor. Violets, dear
masters, have further power and virtue, which strengthens my argument
and overthrows all your specious comments.

"Take violets and roses, and, to test their power, throw them into
brandy, to see what will happen and what will become of their odor.
The brandy, which is powerful, will take away substance and vigor
from the lovely Rose, while the Violet will persist in its fragrance;
this is certain. So I hold her, and with reason, to be of far greater
importance and of much nobler quality than the Rose. Furthermore, there
is made from violets a good lotion which gives comfort to sick people,
and from the plants and roots are made several medicines, but you
cannot make anything out of a rose-bush, except a fire in winter. And
if goats or sheep do browse on violets, I am sure that the milk they
give does much good to the children who drink it."

Then Master Papin, the advocate of the Rose, stood up and wished to say
something, but Imagination spoke before him, and said, "Where are you
going, Sir Advocate? You weary us with so much talking. Who wants to
listen to your speeches? They would fill four rolls. We must stop your
pleading, for we are compelled to hear other cases."

"Lady," said the advocate, "you ought to hear all suits out; for that
is your court open. Do not be so hasty; you complain of the debate too
soon. Pronounce your just decision on our case."

Imagination, at these words, declared that she would hear no more, nor
would she give a decision.

"Who will then? Tell us that, Lady!"

"Willingly," she replied; "you have elsewhere a court of appeal for
judging right and wrong, which is higher than mine."

"And where is it? Lead us to it, or direct us, and we will go there."

Imagination replied, "Good sir Advocate, the noble and high
Fleur-de-lys, whom men should hold in dear esteem, has sovereignty, has
she not, over the Rose and all other flowers? Indeed she has and always
has had and shall have, as is just; for as the lion is king of beasts
and the eagle king of birds, so, I assure you, is the Fleur-de-lys
sovereign lady over all flowers, and most exalted. Therefore go to
her court,—happy is he who has recourse to it,—I cannot send you to a
better place to plead your cause. The way is not very long; say that I
sent you there for counsel, that they may help you."

"Ah, dear lady, and where does the Fleur-de-lys live? Since this is so,
we will go there, if it please you."

She responds, without hesitation, "In the noble realm of France.
There you will find with all delight the noble and high Fleur-de-lys
surrounded in state by a fair and goodly company: Hardihood, Youth,
Wisdom, Honor, and Largesse, by whom you will be welcomed gladly and
advised with counsel gracious and wise. For the King, Orleans and
Bourbon, Berry, Bourgoyne, Eu, and La Marche will not break their
promise to study wisely, to consider loyally, and to examine your
dispute, which will be pleasing to them. And when they have heard it, I
believe that they will answer so wisely and so to the point that there
will never be more argument between Rose and Violet such as this plea
deals with. And if, through any difficulty in the affair, it should be
necessary to have counsel, you know there are still the Marguerites,
small and beautiful flowers, whom it is a pleasure to meet again at all
seasons, summer and winter, and there are several other noble flowers,
with which her court is much adorned, who may give her faithful
counsel. Go there, I advise you."

"Lady," said he, "that is our purpose." With that the hearing was

      Translated by Marion E. Markley




Saint Patrick felt such pity for the Irish folk, who lived in deadly
sin and false belief, that he constantly besought them to turn to God
and obey His law, but they were so full of wickedness that they scorned
every word he spoke. They all said that they would not repent nor cease
from evil unless he would undertake the adventure of going down into
hell to bring them back tidings of the pain and woe which souls suffer
there evermore. The saint was sorely dismayed upon hearing this, and,
often, with fasting and prayer, he begged Jesus Christ to grant him the
grace to find a way by which he might bring the people of Ireland out
of bondage to the fiend, and lead them to believe in God Omnipotent.

Once, while he was in holy church, praying thus, he fell asleep before
the altar, and began to dream of heaven's bliss; he thought that Jesus
came to him and gave him a book such as no clerk can ever write,
telling all manner of good tidings of heaven and earth and hell, and of
God's mystery. Into his hand God put a fair staff, which to this day
is called, in Ireland, God's staff. And God led him straightway thence
into a great desert where was a secret opening, grisly to see. Round
it was, and black; in all the world it has no mate. When Saint Patrick
saw that sight he was greatly troubled in his sleep, but God revealed
to him that if a man who had sinned against the holy law and yet truly
repented should do penance in this hole, a day and a night, his sins
would be forgiven him. If the man were of good faith, steadfast in
belief, he should see the strong pains of those who have sinned in this
world, but should not suffer himself, and finally, he should behold the
joy that lasts for aye in paradise. Then Jesus withdrew his gracious
countenance and left Patrick there alone.

When the saint awoke he found God's tokens, and, taking them in his
hand, he knelt to thank Jesus Christ for revealing to him how he might
turn the Irish folk to amendment. On that spot, without delay, he had
a fair abbey built, in the name of God and of our Lady. The abbey had
no equal anywhere; solace and glee and rejoicing abounded for poor and
for rich. White canons regular were placed there to serve God early
and late and to be holy men. The book and the staff God gave him men
may still see. In the east end of the abbey is that grisly hole, with
a good stone wall all around it, and a gate with lock and key. That
very spot is called the right entrance to Patrick's Purgatory, for
in the times when this happened many a man went down to hell, as the
story tells us, and suffered pain for his trespasses, and then returned
again, through God's grace. They all said, when they had come out,
that they had indeed seen the very pains of hell and also the joys of
angels singing to God and to his hosts. That is the joy of paradise:
Jesus bring us thither! When the people of Ireland began to understand
the joys described by Saint Patrick, they all came to him and were
christened at the font and forsook their misdeeds. So they became good
Christians through knowledge of God and the prayers of Saint Patrick.
Now hearken, and I will tell you about another thing, if you care to
hear it.

In the days of Stephen, a king who ruled England wisely, there was in
Northumberland a knight who was a brave and valiant man. He was born in
that country, and was called Owain. He knew much about battle, and he
was very sinful towards his Creator. One day, bethinking himself of his
sins, he was filled with dread, and he determined, through God's grace,
to be shriven and sin no more. By chance, he came to the Bishop of
Ireland, in that abbey where the hole of penance was, and he confessed
and prayed that a sore penance be laid upon him, for never again, he
said, would he sin. The bishop was glad of this promise, and, after
rebuking Owain sharply for his evil deeds, said that he must undertake
many hard tasks of penance. The knight answered, "Gladly will I do what
God ordains, though it be to go into Patrick's Purgatory." The bishop,
describing to him the torments of the place, said, "Nay, friend Owain,
that way thou shalt not go. Take some other penance in expiation of
thy sins." However, for all the bishop could say the knight would not
yield, so the bishop led him into the holy church and taught him the
law of God.

Fifteen days he spent in affliction, in fasting, and in prayer, and
then the prior, at the head of a procession with cross and banner,
brought him to the hole. The prior said, "Knight Owain, here is thy
way, go right forward; when thou hast proceeded a long distance and
hast lost the light of day, still keep directly north. Thou shalt go
thus under the earth, and then, very soon, thou wilt find a great field
where there is a hall of stone, unlike any other in the world. Some
light there is, but no more than appears when the sun goes to ground
in winter. Into that hall thou shalt go and stay until folk come to
solace thee. Thirteen[27] men will appear, all serjeants of God, and
they will counsel thee about thy course through purgatory."

Then the prior and the convent commended him to God and went forth,
shutting the gate. The knight took the way leading to the field where
was the hall of stone. The hall was the work of no earthly workman; it
was cleverly made in fashion of a cloister, with pillars on each side.
When the knight had stood a long time, marvelling, he entered. Soon,
thirteen wise men appeared, all dressed in white habits and with their
heads newly tonsured. Their leader, advancing, saluted the knight, and
then sat down to instruct him: "I shall counsel thee, dear brother,
as I have many another who has passed this way, to be of good faith,
certain, and without doubt, for thou wilt see, when we have departed,
a thousand fiends and more to lead thee to torment; take note that if
thou dost obey them in the slightest thing, thy soul will be lost. Keep
God in thy heart, and think how He suffered from His wounds. Unless
thou dost as I tell thee, thou wilt go to hell, body and soul, and be
lost eternally. If thou dost speak God's high name, they cannot harm
thee." When he had thus counselled the knight, the leader and his
fellows commended him to God, and with benign looks went forth from the

Owain, left there in dread, began to lament and call upon God. Soon
he heard a piteous cry; he could not have been more frightened if the
heaven had fallen. When he had recovered from the fear caused by that
cry, there came flocking in a crowd of fiends, fifty score or more,
loathsome things altogether. Crowding around the knight they laughed
him to scorn, saying that he had come in flesh and skin to win the
joys of hell forever. The master fiend, falling upon his knees, said,
"Welcome, Owain; thou art come to suffer penance for thy sins, but thou
wilt get no benefit, for thou shalt have torments, hard and strong
and tough enough because of thy deadly sins. Never hadst thou more
mischance than thou shalt have in our dance when we begin our sport.
However, if thou wilt do our bidding, since thou art dear to us, our
whole company will bring thee back with tender love to the spot where
thou didst leave the prior. If thou dost refuse, we shall prove to thee
that thou hast served us many a year in pride and luxury, and all our
company will thrust their hooks at thee." Owain answered, "I forsake
your counsel, and will endure my penance." When the fiends heard this,
they made a great fire in the hall, and binding him fast, feet and
hands, they cast him into the midst of it. He called upon our Lord,
and at once the fire vanished; no coal nor spark was left, through the
grace of God Almighty. As soon as the knight saw this he grew bolder,
realizing that it was the treachery of the fiends to try his heart.

Then the devils went out of the hall, leading the knight with them to
a strange place, where nothing good entered, only hunger, thirst, and
cold. He could see no tree, could hear no sound of wind, yet a cold
blast blew that pierced his side. At last the fiends brought him to a
valley where the knight thought he must have reached the deepest pit of
hell. As he drew nearer, he looked about, for he heard screaming and
groaning, and he saw a field full of men and women, each lying face
downward, naked, and with deadly wounds. They lay prone on the earth,
bound with iron bands, screaming and wailing, "Alas, alas, mercy,
mercy, mercy, God Almighty!" Mercy there was none, but only sorrow of
heart and grinding of teeth, which was a grisly sight. That sorrow and
misery is punishment for the foul sin of sloth. Whosoever is slow in
God's service may expect to lie in purgatory in such torment.

That was the first pain that they inflicted on him, and after he had
recovered, they took him to a place where he saw more misery. Men and
women crying out, "Alas!" and "Welaway!" lay there, faces upward,
as the others had lain with faces downward, with feet and hands and
heads nailed fast to the earth with nails glowing red. Owain saw
loathsome fiery dragons sitting upon them; on others sat black toads,
newts, adders, and snakes that ate them, backs and sides. This is the
punishment of gluttony; for the love of God be warned, since that sin
flourishes all too widely. Owain thought a wind blew among them so
bitter and so cold that it overthrew all who lay in purgatory. The
fiends quickly leaped upon the sufferers and tore them furiously with
their hooks. Whosoever, man or woman, is guilty of impurity in this
life, shall suffer in that prison. The fiend said to the knight, "Thou
hast been unclean and a great glutton, also; into this torment thou
shalt be thrust unless thou wilt return speedily the way thou didst
come." Owain said, "Nay, Satan, further still shall I go, through the
grace of God Almighty." The fiends would have seized him, but he called
upon God Omnipotent, and they lost all their power.

They then led him into a spot where men never did any good deeds, but
only shameful and villainous ones. In the fourth field this was,
full of torments. There were people hanging by the feet from burning
iron hooks, others hung by the neck, the stomach, the back, and in
other ways too numerous to mention. Some were hanging by the tongue,
and their constant cry was "Alas!" and no other prayer. In a furnace
with molten lead and burning brimstone boiling over the fire were many
folk. Some lying on gridirons glowing against the flames were people
whom Owain had once known, but who were now entirely changed through
the penance they suffered. A wild fire surged among them, and all whom
it seized, it burned, ten thousand souls and more. Those that hung by
feet and neck were thieves, or the companions of thieves, and wrought
men woe. Those that hung by the tongue and ever sang "Alas!" and cried
so loudly were backbiters in their lives. Beware, man or wife, if thou
art fond of chiding! All the places the knight came by were full of the
pains of purgatory. Whosoever takes the name of God in vain, or bears
any false witness, suffers strong pains there.

Owain saw where a grisly-looking wheel turned; huge it was, burning
like a brand as it wound around, and covered with hooks. A hundred
thousand souls and more were hanging from the wheel. The fiends turned
it about so fast that Sir Owain could not recognize anybody there. Out
of the earth came a burning blue fire; it smelled foully, and it went
around the wheel, burning the souls to a very fine powder. The wheel
that runs thus is for the punishment of covetousness that now reigns
everywhere. The covetous man has never enough gold or silver or even
ploughs until Death fells him. The fiends said to the knight, "Thou
hast been covetous of winning land and men; upon this wheel thou shalt
be placed unless thou wilt return at once to thine own country." When
he refused, the fiends seized him, bound him fast upon the revolving
wheel, and cast him in the midst. When the hooks tore him and the fire
burned him, he thought of Jesus Christ. An angel bore him from the
wheel, and all the fiends there could do him no harm.

Further he was led in great pain, until they came to a mountain that
was red as blood. Men and women stood on it, in misery, it seemed, for
they cried as if they were mad. The fiends then said to the knight,
"Thou art wondering about these men who make such doleful cheer. They
have deserved the wrath of God; soon they shall have such a drink as
they will not think pleasant." No sooner had he spoken than there came
a blast of wind that took fiends and souls and knight up almost into
the firmament, and then cast them down into a foul-smelling river that
ran under the mountain of fire as an arrow from a cross-bow. It was
as cold as ice, and no one can describe the pain that he suffered.
Owain was almost drowned in the water, and became so frenzied and
faint that he was well-nigh lost. As soon as he could think upon God
he was brought out of the water and carried to land. That pain is the
punishment of wrath and envy. Envy was the blast of wind which cast him
into the smelling water. Let every man beware of it.

They led him forth quickly until they came to a hall whose like he had
never seen before; out of the hall came such heat that the knight began
to sweat. He saw so foul a smoke that he stopped, and when the fiends
perceived it they were pleased. "Turn again," they began to cry, "thou
shalt die, unless thou dost withdraw." When he came to the hall door
he saw misery, a half of which he had never imagined. The hall was a
place of torments; those folk who were in that prison were stripped of
all happiness, for the floor of the hall was full of pits, round and
filled to the top with brimstone, brass, copper, and other metals all
molten. Men and women stood in these, screaming and crying as if they
were mad; some stood up to the waist, others to the breast, and some to
the chin. Each man according to his guilt was fixed in that torment,
to suffer that great heat. Some bore around their necks bags full of
pennies glowing with fire, and such meat they ate. These were usurers
in this life. Beware, men and women, lest such sin hinder you. And many
souls there walked upright, bearing false measures and false weights,
which fiends sat upon. The fiends said to the knight, "Thou must bathe
in this lead before thou go hence; because of thy usury and thy sin,
thou must wash thyself somewhat." Owain feared that torment, and called
upon God Omnipotent and His mother Mary. He was borne out of the hall,
from the pains and all the fiends, when he made that outcry.

Soon he was frightened by seeing a flame of fire, mighty and thick,
spring out of the earth, like coal and pitch. Of seven colors was this
fire, and some of the souls burning in it were yellow, some green, some
black, some blue, and some like adders. They were woful indeed. The
fiends took the knight to the pit, and said, "Now, Owain, thou mayst
find solace, for thou shalt shake with our fellows in the pit of hell.
These are our birds in our cage, and this is our court and our castle
tower. Dost thou think, Sir Knight, that to those who are brought here
anything is sharp? Now turn again, ere it be too late, before we thrust
thee into hell gate, for thou shalt never issue out of it by means of
any crying or calling upon Mary, or by any other trick." The knight was
firm, so the fiends seized and bound him, and cast him far down into
that dark, evil, reeking prison. The farther down they thrust him the
hotter it was, and he suffered cruelly. With good will and steadfast
heart he called upon God Omnipotent to help him out of that torment,
and he was borne up out of the pit, otherwise he would have been lost
until the day of his death. That suffering, which lasts forever, is for
the foul sin of pride.

Outside the pit he realized how God had rescued him. His clothes were
torn to pieces, his body was burned all over, and he knew not which
way to go. He changed color when he saw more fiends, none of whom he
recognized in that strange place. Some of them had sixty eyes that were
loathsome and grisly, some had sixty hands. They said, "Thou shalt not
be alone, but shalt have us for company, to teach thee the new laws,
as before thou didst learn them in that spot where thou wast among our
fellows." The fiends then led the knight towards a foul-smelling body
of water, such as he had never seen. It was many miles in breadth and
black as pitch. Owain saw passing over it a very strong but narrow
bridge. The fiends said, "Lo, Sir Knight, seest thou this? This is the
bridge of paradise; across this thou must go, and we shall hurl stones
at thee, and the wind shall blow thee over and work thee woe. Thou wilt
never pass over this without falling into the midst of our fellows to
dwell forevermore. When thou hast fallen down, then all our company
will come and wound thee with their hooks. We shall teach thee a new
sport, for thou hast served us many a day, and we will lead thee into

Owain beheld the bridge and the water under it, so black and dreadful,
and began to be sore afraid because of one thing he noted: never did
motes dance in the sunbeam thicker than that company of fiends. The
bridge[28] was as high as a tower and as sharp as a razor; narrow
it was, and the water running underneath burned with lightning and
thunder. He was exceedingly woful. There is no clerk who may write with
ink, nor no man who can think, nor no master who can divine, one half
of the torment there is under the bridge of paradise. We are told that
there is the true entrance to hell. Saint Paul bears witness. Whosoever
falls down from the bridge will never have redemption in any degree.

The fiends then said to the knight, "There is no need for thee to cross
this bridge. Flee pain, sorrow, and woe, and we will lead thee fairly
back to that place from which thou didst come." Owain began to recall
from how many of the tricks of the fiends God had saved him, so he set
his foot upon the bridge, and felt no sharp edge, nor was he at all
afraid. When the fiends saw that he was more than half over, they began
to cry aloud, "Alas, alas, that he was born, this knight we have lost
from our prison!"

When he was safely across the bridge, he thanked God Omnipotent and
His mother Mary, who had sent him such grace, that he was delivered
out of torment into a better region. A cloth of gold was brought to
him, he knew not how except that God sent it. That cloth he put on, and
at once all his wounds from being burned were whole, and he thanked
the Trinity. Looking ahead, he saw what seemed to be a stone wall. He
gazed far and near, but could see no end of this, which shone all of
red gold. Farther on he saw a gate, a fairer one may never be in this
world. It was made, not of wood nor of steel, but of red gold and of
precious stones, created by God out of nothing. Jasper, topaz, crystal,
pearls, and coral, rich sapphires, rubies, chalcedonies, onyxes, and
diamonds were wrought into tabernacles. Richer they might not be; they
had pillars small and beautifully fashioned, with arches of carbuncles,
knots of red gold, and pinnacles of crystal. Inasmuch as our Savior
is more skilful than any goldsmith or painter in any land, so are the
gates of paradise more richly wrought than any other.

The gates unfastened themselves, and a fragrance like balm came forth,
of such sweetness that the knight took fresh strength and thought that
now he would be a thousand times better prepared to suffer pain and woe
and to fight against all the fiends if he had to go back the way he
came. He went near the gate and saw approaching a procession of folk
with gracious countenances, bearing tapers and candlesticks of gold
and crosses and banners. Popes there were, of great dignity, and many
cardinals, kings and queens, knights, abbots superior, monks, canons,
and preaching friars, and bishops who bore crosses. Minorite friars and
Jacobins, Carmelites and Austin friars, black and white nuns—all manner
of religious orders went in that procession. The order of wedlock came
also, with many men and women who thanked God for sending his grace to
deliver the knight from torment by the fiends, and to bring him alive
to that spot. When the praises had thus been sung, two archbishops came
out of the midst of that company, bearing palms of gold. They advanced
to the knight, and, taking him between them, led him up and down, and
showed him still greater joys and also much melody. Merry were their
carols of joy and minstrelsy. They went carolling with a joy no man can
divine, singing and praising God; angels guided them with harps and
fiddles and psaltery, and bells rang merrily. No man may carol there
except him who is clean from sin and who has given up all folly. Now
may God and His mother Mary, in memory of Thy wounds, grant that we
may carol in that hall. This same joy is granted for love and charity
towards God and all mankind. Whosoever lets earthly love alone and
loves God in Trinity may carol thus.

Other joys he saw in abundance: high trees, with many branches, on
which the birds of heaven sat and sang their notes with merry glee,
some low, some intermediate, and some high. He thought indeed that with
the song of those birds he might live happily there until the end of
the world. Then he saw the tree of life, because of which Adam and his
wife went to hell. Fair were the arbors, there, with flowers,—roses and
lilies of many colors, primroses and periwinkle, mint, featherfoy and
eglantine, columbine, and many others, more than man can think. Herbs
of other kinds than on earth grow there, though that is the least of
the praises of the place. Forever they spring up green, sweeter than
licorice, unchanging in winter and summer.

There are wells in that spot, with water sweeter than any mead, and out
of the chief one which Owain saw, run the four streams of paradise.
Pison, they call one stream that gleams brightly, because men find gold
there; Gihon is another that is much praised for the precious stones in
its bed; the third stream is named Euphrates, it runs straight along;
and the fourth is Tigris, in all the world is there none other with
stones so bright. Whosoever loves to live in purity shall have that
same bliss and see that same sight. More Owain saw there, under God's
glory on high; blessed be His might!

Some souls he saw apart by themselves, and some in groups of ten or
twelve; and when they met together they made as much rejoicing as
sister does with brother. Some he saw going about in scarlet red, some
in purple well wrought, and others in thin silk. They wore tunics and
albs, like what the priest wears at mass, some covered with gold work.
The knight knew well by their clothing in what state they were, and
what deeds they had done when they were men's companions. I will tell
you a fair similitude drawn from the clear stars; inasmuch as one star
is brighter to the sight and of more power than three others, so is it
with the joys of paradise. They are not all alike, yet he who has the
least joy thinks he has the most of all and calls himself very rich.

The bishops came again and, taking him between them, led him up and
down and said, "Brother, God be praised, thy wish is fulfilled. Now
listen to our counsel. Thou hast seen with thine eyes both the joys and
the pains. We will tell thee ere thou dost pass hence, of our common
fate. That land that is so full of sorrow, evening and morning, where
thou as well as many other souls didst suffer sorely, is called by men
purgatory. And this land, where thou now art, so wide and spacious and
so full of bliss, is called paradise. No man may come here until he
has been purged and made clean there. When they come hither, we lead
them into joy, sometimes by groups of twelve and ten. And some are so
bound, that they know not how long they must endure the heat; but if
their friends who are left on earth have masses sung, or else give food
or some other kind of alms, all the better will these folk speed and
will come out of their misery into this paradise, where joy and bliss
ever are, and will live here in perfect peace. Just as they come out
of purgatory, so pass we on to God's glory, which is the high kingdom
of the celestial paradise, wherein enter only Christian folk to a joy
unequalled. When we come out of the fire of purgatory we cannot pass
at once into that place nor see God's face, but must dwell here a long
time. Even the child born tonight must pass through that pain before he
can enter heaven, and how much harder is it for an old man who has been
long in sin to come hither!"

Forth they went until they saw a very high mountain where all was
pleasure. Finally they came to the top, and saw all its joys. There
were all manner of bird songs; much delight was there and evermore
shall be. There is more joy in a bird's mouth than in any harp or
fiddle or crouth,[29] whether on land or sea. That land so fair is
called the terrestrial paradise; the other paradise, which is the
kingdom of God, is above the air and has joys unequalled. (In the
earthly paradise Owain was, which Adam had lost, and if Adam had done
according to the will of God, neither he nor his offspring would have
had to depart out of that joy. Yet, since Adam broke God's commandment
so soon, God made him delve with pick and spade in the earth, to help
his wife and himself. God was very wroth with him. An angel of stern
countenance, bearing a sword of fire, came and made them sore afraid,
and drove them out into the world, where they lived evermore in sorrow
and woe. And when he died he came to hell, as did all his descendants,
until the Son of God was born, by whose passion and death man was
brought out of that prison.)[30]

The bishops commanded the knight to tell them whether heaven seemed
white or gray, blue or red, yellow or green. The knight answered,
"Methinks it is a thousand times brighter than any gold." "Yet,"
said the bishop, "that very place which is so bright is only the
entrance, and every day, to make us blithe, we are refreshed by a sweet
fragrance, which is food to our soul." Anon the knight was aware that
a flame of fire issued out from heaven's gate, and he thought that it
flew all over paradise, giving forth a sweet smell. The Holy Ghost, in
form of fire, alighted then upon the knight, by whose virtue he lost
all his earthliness; and for this he thanked God's grace.

Then the bishop said, "God feeds us each day with His bread, but we
have no such knowledge of His grace, nor such a vision of His face as
have those who are on high. The souls who are at God's feast have joy
that lasts without end. Now thou, because of our common fate, must
return again the way thou didst come. Keep thyself from mortal sin, so
that when thou art dead thou mayst be led by angels into the joy that
has no end."

Then Owain wept bitterly and prayed for God's mercy that he might
dwell there and might not behold again the strong pains of hell. From
his prayer he got no gain; so he took his leave and departed, although
he was very sorrowful. Fiends he saw—ten thousand flying from him fast
as arrows from a cross-bow. When he came to the hall he found the
thirteen men therein. They all held up their hands, and thanked the
mercy of Jesus Christ a thousand times and more, and bade Owain not to
rest until he had returned to Ireland as quickly as he could go. And,
as I find in the story, the prior of the purgatory had a token that
night that Owain had overcome his woes and would appear on the morrow,
through grace of God Almighty.

Then the prior, at the head of a procession with cross and banner, went
at once to the hole where Owain had gone, and soon they saw a gleam of
light like a bright fire burning; then in the midst of the light came
Owain, the knight of God. Then they knew well that Owain had been in
paradise and in purgatory, and that he was a holy man. They led him
into holy church, to do God's office and to say his prayers. On the
fifteenth day, the knight took staff and scrip and sought the holy
place where Christ bought us so dearly upon the cross and where He rose
from death to life through the virtue of His five wounds. Blessed may
He be! And Bethlehem, too, he visited, where Christ was born of Mary,
His mother like the flower of the thorn. At last, returning to Ireland,
Owain took the monk's habit and lived there seven years. When he died
he entered, truly, into the high joys of paradise, through the help
of God's grace. Now for the love of Saint Owain, may God grant us the
bliss of heaven above, in the presence of His sweet face! Amen!

      Translated by M. H. S.





Saint Brandon, the holy man, was a monk and born in Ireland, and there
he was abbot of a house wherein were a thousand monks, and there he had
a full strait and holy life in great penance and abstinence, and he
governed his monks full virtuously. And then within short while after
there came to him an holy abbot, that hight Birinus, to visit him, and
each of them was joyful of other. And then Saint Brandon began to tell
to the Abbot Birinus of many wonders that he had seen in divers lands,
and when Birinus heard that of Saint Brandon, he began to sigh and sore
weep, and Saint Brandon comforted him in the best wise that he could,
saying, "Ye come hither for to be joyful with me, and therefore for
God's love leave your mourning, and tell me what marvels ye have seen
in the great sea ocean that compasseth all the world about and all
other waters come out of him, which runneth in all parts of the earth."

And then Birinus began to tell to Saint Brandon and to his monks the
marvels that he had seen, full sore weeping, and said: "I have a son,
his name is Mervok, and he was a monk of great fame, which had great
desire to seek about by ship in divers countries to find a solitary
place wherein he might dwell secretly out of the business of the world
for to serve God quietly with more devotion. And I counselled him to
sail into an island far in the sea beside the Mountain of Stones,
which is full well known; and then he made him ready and sailed thither
with his monks. And when he came thither he liked the place full well,
where he and his monks served our Lord full devoutly."

And then Birinus saw in a vision that this monk Mervok was sailed right
far eastward in the sea, more than three days' sailing, and suddenly,
to his seeming, there came a dark cloud and over-covered them, that a
great part of the day they saw no light, and, as our Lord would, the
cloud passed away and they saw a full fair island, and thitherward they
drew. In that island was joy and mirth enough, and the earth of that
island shined as bright as the sun; and there were the fairest trees
and herbs that ever any man saw, and there were many precious stones
shining bright, and every herb there was full of flowers, and every
tree full of fruit, so that it was a glorious sight and a heavenly joy
to abide there.

And then there came to them a fair young man, and full courteously he
welcomed them all, and called every monk by his name, and he said that
they were much bound to praise the name of our Lord Jesu, that would,
of His grace, shew to them this glorious place where is ever day and
never night. And this place is called Paradise Terrestrial. By this
island is another island wherein no man may come, and this young man
said to them: "Ye have been here half a year without meat, drink, or
sleep," and they supposed they had not been there the space of half
an hour, so merry and joyful they were there. And the young man told
them that this is the place that Adam and Eve dwelt in first, and ever
should have dwelled here if that they had not broken the commandment of

Then the young man brought them to their ship again and said they
might no longer abide there; and when they were all shipped, suddenly
this young man vanished away out of their sight. And then within short
time after, by the purveyance of our Lord Jesu Christ, they came to
the abbey where Saint Brandon dwelled, and then he with his brethren
received them goodly and demanded them where they had been so long, and
they said: "We have been in the Land of Behest, tofore the gates of
paradise, whereas is ever day and never night." And they said all that
the place is full delectable, for yet all their clothes smelled of the
sweet and joyful place.

And then Saint Brandon purposed soon after for to seek that place by
God's help, and anon began to purvey for a good ship and a strong, and
victualled it for seven years. And then he took his leave of all his
brethren and took twelve monks with him, but, ere they entered into
the ship, they fasted forty days and lived devoutly, and each of them
received the sacrament. And when Saint Brandon with his twelve monks
were entered into the ship, there came other two of his monks and
prayed him that they might sail with him, and then he said: "Ye may
sail with me, but one of you shall go to hell ere you come again." But
for all that they would go with him.

And then Saint Brandon bade the shipmen to wind up the sail, and forth
they sailed in God's name, so that on the morrow they were out of
sight of any land. And forty days and forty nights after they sailed
plat east, and then they saw an island far from them; and they sailed
thitherward as fast as they could, and they saw a great rock of stone
appear above all the water; and three days they sailed about it ere
they could get into the place, but at the last, by the purveyance of
God, they found a little haven and there went aland every each one. And
then suddenly came a fair hound, and fell down at the feet of Saint
Brandon and made him good cheer in his manner. And then he bade his
brethren be of good cheer, "For our Lord hath sent to us his messenger
to lead us into some good place." And the hound brought them into a
fair hall, where they found the tables spread, ready set full of good
meat and drink. And then Saint Brandon said graces, and then he and his
brethren sat down and ate and drank of such as they found, and there
were beds ready for them wherein they took their rest after their long

And on the morn they returned again to their ship, and sailed a long
time in the sea after, ere they could find any land, till at last, by
the purveyance of God, they saw far from them a full fair island, full
of green pasture, wherein were the whitest and greatest sheep that ever
they saw; for every sheep was as great as an ox. And soon after came to
them a goodly old man, which welcomed them and made to them good cheer,
and said: "This is the Island of Sheep. And here is never cold weather
but ever summer, and that causeth the sheep to be so great and white:
they eat of the best grass and herbs that is anywhere." And then this
old man took his leave of them and bade them sail forth right east, and
within short time, by God's grace, they should come into a place like
paradise wherein they should keep their Eastertide.

And then they sailed forth, and came soon after to that land, but could
find no haven because of little depth in some place, and in some place
were great rocks. But at the last they went upon an island, weening
to them that they had been safe, and made thereon a fire for to dress
their dinner, but Saint Brandon abode still in the ship. When the fire
was right hot and the meat nigh sodden, then this island began to move,
whereof the monks were afeard, and fled anon to the ship and left
the fire and meat behind them, and marvelled sore of the moving. And
Saint Brandon comforted them and said that it was a great fish named
Jasconye, which laboureth night and day to put his tail in his mouth
but for greatness he may not.

And then anon they sailed west three days and three nights ere they
saw any land, wherefore they were right heavy, but soon after, as
God would, they saw a fair island full of flowers, herbs, and trees;
whereof they thanked God of His good grace, and anon they went on land.
And when they had gone long in this, they found a full fair well, and
thereby stood a fair tree full of boughs, and on every bough sat a fair
bird, and they sat so thick on the tree that unnethe any leaf of the
tree might be seen. The number of them was so great and they sang so
merrily that it was an heavenly noise to hear, wherefore Saint Brandon
kneeled down on his knees and wept for joy, and made his prayers
devoutly to our Lord God to know what these birds meant. And then anon
one of these birds fled from the tree to Saint Brandon, and he with
flickering of his wings made a full merry noise like a fiddle, that
him seemed he heard never so joyful a melody. And then Saint Brandon
commanded the bird to tell him the cause why they sat so thick on the
tree and sang so merrily. And then the bird said: "Sometime we were
angels in heaven. But when our master Lucifer fell down into hell for
his high pride, we fell with him for our offences, some higher and some
lower, after the quality of the trespass, and because our trespass is
but little, therefore our Lord hath set us here, out of all pain, in
full great joy and mirth, after His pleasing, here to serve Him in
this tree in the best manner we can. The Sunday is a day of rest from
all worldly occupation, and therefore this day all we be made as white
as any snow for to praise our Lord in the best wise we may." And then
this bird said to Saint Brandon: "It is twelve months passed that ye
departed from your abbey, and in the seventh year hereafter ye shall
see the place that ye desire to come to. And all these seven years, ye
shall keep your Easter here with us every year, and in the end of the
seventh year ye shall come unto the Land of Behest."

And this was on Easter Day that the bird said these words to Saint
Brandon; and then this fowl flew again to his fellows that sat on
the tree, and then the birds began to sing evensong so merrily that
it was an heavenly noise to hear. And after supper Saint Brandon and
his fellows went to bed and slept well; and on the morn they arose
betimes, and then those birds began matins, prime, and hours, and all
such service as Christian men use to sing. And Saint Brandon with his
fellows abode there eight weeks, till Trinity Sunday was passed.

And they sailed again to the Island of Sheep, and they victualled them
well, and took their leave of that old man and returned again to ship.
And then the bird of the tree came again to Saint Brandon and said:
"I am come to tell you that ye shall sail from hence into an island,
wherein is an abbey of twenty-four monks, which is from this place
many a mile, and there ye shall hold your Christmas and your Easter
with us, like as I told you." And then this bird flew to his fellows

Then Saint Brandon and his fellows sailed forth in the ocean, and soon
after fell a great tempest on them in which they were greatly troubled
long time and sore for-laboured. And after that they found, by the
purveyance of God, an island that was far from them, and then they
full meekly prayed our Lord to send them thither in safety, but it was
forty days after ere they came thither; wherefore all the monks were so
weary of that trouble that they set little price by their lives, and
cried continually to our Lord to have mercy on them, and bring them to
that island in safety. And, by the purveyance of God, they came at the
last into a little haven, but it was so strait that unnethe[32] the
ship might come in; and after, they came to an anchor, and anon the
monks went to land. And when they had long walked about, at the last
they found two fair wells: one was fair and clear water, but the other
was somewhat troubly and thick. And then they thanked our Lord fully
humbly that had brought them thither in safety; and they would fain
have drunken of that water, but Saint Brandon charged them they should
not take without licence: "For if we abstain us awhile, our Lord will
purvey for us in the best wise." And anon after came to them a fair
old man with hoar hair, and welcomed them full meekly and kissed Saint
Brandon, and led them by many a fair well till they came to a fair
abbey, where they were received with great honour and solemn procession
with twenty-four monks all in royal copes of cloth of gold, and a royal
cross was before them. And then the abbot welcomed Saint Brandon and
his fellowship, and kissed them full meekly, and took Saint Brandon
by the hand and led him with his monks into a fair hall, and set them
down arow upon the bench, and the abbot of the place washed all their
feet with fair water of the well that they saw before, and after, he
led them into a fraitour[33] and there set them among his convent. And
anon there came one, by the purveyance of God, which served them well
of meat and drink, for every monk had set before him a fair white loaf
and white roots and herbs which were right delicious, but they wist not
what roots they were. And they drank of the water of the fair clear
well which they saw before when they came first aland, which Saint
Brandon forbade them.

And then the abbot came and cheered Saint Brandon and his monks and
bade them eat and drink for charity: "For every day our Lord sendeth a
goodly old man that covereth this table and setteth our meat and drink
tofore us, but we know not how it cometh, ne we ordain never no meat
ne drink for us, and yet we have been eighty years here, and ever our
Lord, worshipped may He be, feedeth us. We be twenty-four monks in
number, and every ferial[34] day of the week He sendeth to us twelve
loaves, and every Sunday and feast day twenty-four loaves, and the
bread that we leave at dinner we eat at supper. And now at your coming
our Lord hath sent unto us forty-eight loaves, for to make you and us
merry together as brethren. And always twelve of us go to dinner while
other twelve keep the quire, and thus have we done these eighty years,
for so long have we dwelled in this abbey. We came hither out of the
abbey of Saint Patrick in Ireland, and thus as ye see our Lord hath
purveyed for us, but none of us knoweth how it cometh but God alone to
whom be given honour and laud, world without end. Here in this land
is ever fair weather, and none of us hath ever been sick sith we came
hither. And when we go to mass or to any other service of our Lord in
the church, anon seven tapers of wax be set in the quire and be lighted
at every time without man's hand, and so burn day and night at every
hour of service, and never waste ne minish as long as we have been
here, which is eighty years."

Then Saint Brandon went to the church with the abbot of the place,
and there they said evensong together full devoutly, and then Saint
Brandon looked upward towards the crucifix and saw our Lord hanging
on the cross, which was made of fine crystal and curiously wrought.
And in the quire were twenty-four seats for twenty-four monks, and
the seven tapers burning, and the abbot's seat was made in the midst
of the quire. Then Saint Brandon demanded of the abbot how long they
had kept that silence, that none of them spake to other, and he said:
"This twenty-four years we spake never one to another." And then Saint
Brandon wept for joy of their holy conversation. And then Saint Brandon
desired of the abbot that he and his monks might dwell there still with
him. To whom the abbot said: "Sir, that may ye not do in no wise, for
our Lord hath shewed to you in what manner ye shall be guided till the
seven years be fulfilled, and after that term thou shalt with thy monks
return into Ireland in safety, but one of the two monks that came last
to you shall dwell in the Island of Ankers,[35] and that other shall go
quick to hell."

And as Saint Brandon kneeled in the church, he saw a bright shining
angel come in at the window, and lighted all the lights in the church,
and then he flew out again at the window unto heaven. Then Saint
Brandon marvelled greatly how the light burned so fair and wasted not.
Then the abbot said, "It is written that Moses saw a bush all on afire
and yet it burned not, and therefore marvel not hereof, for the might
of our Lord is now as great as it ever was."

And when Saint Brandon had dwelled there from Christmas even till the
twelfth day was passed, then he took his leave of the abbot of the
convent and returned with his monks to his ship. And he sailed from
thence with his monks toward the abbey of Saint Illaries; but they had
great tempests in the sea from that time till Palm Sunday.

And then they came to the Island of Sheep and there were received of
the old man, which brought them to a fair hall and served them. And on
Shere Thursday[36] after supper he did wash all their feet and kissed
them, like as our Lord did to His disciples, and there they abode
till Saturday, Easter Even; and they departed and sailed to the place
where the fish lay; and anon they saw their cauldron upon the fish's
back, which they had left there twelve months tofore. There they kept
the service of the resurrection, on the fish's back, and after, they
sailed that same day by the morning to the island whereas the tree of
birds was, and then the said bird welcomed Saint Brandon and all his
fellowship, and went again to the tree and sang full merrily. And
there he and his monks dwelled from Easter till Trinity Sunday, as they
did the year before, in full great joy and mirth. And daily they heard
the merry service of the birds sitting on the tree.

And then the bird told to Saint Brandon that he should return again at
Christmas to the abbey of monks, and at Easter thither again, and the
other deal of the year labour in the ocean in full great perils, and
from year to year till the seven years be accomplished. "And then shall
ye come to the joyful place of paradise and dwell there forty days in
full great joy and mirth. And after, ye shall return home into your
own abbey in safety, and there end your life and come to the bliss of
heaven to which our Lord bought you with His precious blood."

And then the angel of our Lord ordained all thing that was needful
to Saint Brandon and to his monks in victuals and all other things
necessary, and then they thanked our Lord of His great goodness He had
shewed to them oft in their great need, and sailed forth in the great
sea ocean, abiding the mercy of our Lord in great trouble and tempests.

And soon after came to them an horrible fish which followed the ship
long time, casting so much water out of his mouth into the ship that
they supposed to have been drowned, wherefore they devoutly prayed
God to deliver them of that great peril. And anon after, came another
fish, greater than he, out of the west sea, and fought with him, and
at the last clave him into three pieces, and then returned again. And
then they thanked meekly our Lord for their deliverance from this
great peril, but they were in great heaviness because their victuals
were nigh spent. But, by the ordinance of our Lord, there came a bird
and brought to them a great branch of a vine full of red grapes, by
which they lived fourteen days, and then they came to a little island,
wherein were many vines full of grapes. And they there landed and
thanked God, and gathered as many grapes as they lived by forty days
after, alway sailing in the sea in many storms and tempests.

And as they thus sailed, suddenly came flying towards them a great
grip[37] which assailed them and was like to have destroyed them.
Wherefore they devoutly prayed for help and aid of our Lord Jesu
Christ. And then the bird of the tree of the island where they had
holden their Easter tofore came to the grip and smote out both his eyes
and after slew him, whereof they thanked our Lord.

And then they sailed forth continually till Saint Peter's day, and then
sang they solemnly their service in the honour of the feast. And in
that place the water was so clear that they might see all the fishes
that were about them, whereof they were full sore aghast, and the monks
counselled Saint Brandon to sing no more, for all the fishes lay then
as they had slept. And then Saint Brandon said: "Dread ye not, for ye
have kept by two Easters the feast of the resurrection upon the great
fish's back, and therefore dread ye not of these little fishes." And
then Saint Brandon made him ready and went to mass and bade his monks
to sing the best way they could, and then anon all the fishes awoke and
came about the ship so thick that unnethe they might see the water for
the fishes, and when the mass was done, all the fishes departed so as
they were no more seen. And seven days they sailed always in that clear

And then there came a south wind and drove the ship northward, whereas
they saw an island full dark and full of stench and smoke, and there
they heard great blowing and blasting of bellows, but they might see
nothing, but heard great thundering, whereof they were sore afraid
and blessed them oft. And soon after, there came one starting out all
burning in fire and gazed full ghastly on them with great staring eyes,
of whom the monks were aghast, and at his departing from them he made
the horriblest cry that might be heard. And soon there came a great
number of fiends and assailed them with hooks and burning iron malles,
which ran on the water, following their ship fast, in such wise that
it seemed all the sea to be on fire. But by the pleasure of our Lord,
they had no power to hurt nor grieve them nor their ship: wherefore
the fiends began to roar and cry and threw their hooks and malles at
them. And they then were sore afeard and prayed to God for comfort and
help, for they saw the fiends all about the ship, and them seemed then
all the island and the sea to be on fire. And with a sorrowful cry all
the fiends departed from them and returned to the place that they came
from. And then Saint Brandon told to them that this was a part of hell,
and therefore he charged them to be steadfast in the faith, for they
should yet see many a dreadful place ere they came home again.

And then came the south wind and drove them further to the north, where
they saw an hill all of fire, and a foul smoke and stench coming from
thence, and the fire stood on each side of the hill, like a wall, all
burning. And then one of his monks began to cry and weep full sore, and
said that his end was come and that he might abide no longer in the
ship; and anon he leapt out of the ship into the sea, and then he cried
and roared full piteously, cursing the time that he was born and also
father and mother that begat him, because they saw no better to his
correction in his young age, "for now I must go to perpetual pain." And
then the saying of the blessed Saint Brandon was verified that he said
to him when he entered. Therefore it is good a man to do penance and
forsake sin, for the hour of death is uncertain.

And then anon the wind turned into the north and drove the ship into
the south, which sailed seven days continually, and they came to a
great rock standing in the sea, and thereon sat a naked man in full
great misery and pain, for the waves of the sea had so beaten his body
that all the flesh was gone off, and nothing left but sinews and bare
bones. And when the waves were gone, there was a canvas that hung over
his head which beat his body full sore with the blowing of the wind;
and also there were two ox-tongues and a great stone that he sat on
which did him full great ease.

And then Saint Brandon charged him to tell him what he was. And he
said: "My name is Judas, that sold our Lord Jesu Christ for thirty
pence, which sitteth here thus wretchedly, howbeit I am worthy to be
in the greatest pain that is. But our Lord is so merciful that He hath
rewarded me better than I have deserved, for of right my place is in
the burning hell, but I am here but certain times of the year, that
is, from Christmas to Twelfth Day, and from Easter till Whitsuntide
be past, and every feastful day of our Lady, and every Saturday noon
till Sunday that evensong be done. But all other times, I lie still
in hell, in full burning fire, with Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas;
therefore accursed be the time that ever I knew them."

And then Judas prayed Saint Brandon to abide still there all that
night, and that he would keep him there still, that the fiends should
not fetch him to hell. And Saint Brandon said, "With God's help thou
shalt abide here all this night." And then he asked Judas what cloth
that was that hung over his head, and he said that it was a cloth that
he gave to a leper, which was bought with the money that he stole from
our Lord when he bare His purse. "Wherefore, it doth to me full great
pain now in beating my face with the blowing of the wind, and these two
ox-tongues that hang here above me, I gave them sometime to two priests
to pray for me; them I bought with mine own money, and therefore they
ease me, because the fishes of the sea gnaw on them and spare me. And
this stone that I sit on lay sometime in a desolate place where it
eased no man, and I took it thence, and laid it in a foul way, where it
did much ease to them that went by that way, and therefore it easeth me
now, for every good deed shall be rewarded and every evil deed shall be

And the Sunday, against even, there came a great multitude of fiends,
blasting and roaring, and they bade Saint Brandon go thence that they
might have their servant Judas, "For we dare not come in the presence
of our master but if we bring him to hell with us." And then said Saint
Brandon: "I let not you to do your master's commandment, but by the
power of the Lord Jesu Christ, I charge you to leave him this night
till tomorrow." They said: "How darest thou help him that so sold his
master for thirty pence to the Jews, and caused Him also to die the
most shameful death upon the cross?" And then Saint Brandon charged
the fiends by His passion that they should not noy him that night. And
then the fiends went their way, roaring and crying, towards hell to
their master the great devil. And then Judas thanked Saint Brandon so
ruthfully that it was a pity to see. And on the morrow the fiends came
with a horrible noise, saying that they had that night suffered great
pain because they brought not Judas, and said that he should suffer
double pain the six days following; and they took then Judas, trembling
for fear, with them to pain.

And after, Saint Brandon sailed southward three days and three nights,
and on the Friday they saw an island, and then Saint Brandon began
to sigh, and said: "I see the island wherein Saint Paul the hermit
dwelleth and hath dwelled there forty years without meat and drink
ordained by man's hand." And when they came to the land, Saint Paul
came and welcomed them humbly. He was old and foregrown[38] so that no
man might see his body. Of whom Saint Brandon said, weeping: "I see a
man that liveth more like an angel than a man, wherefore we monks may
be ashamed that we live not better." Then Saint Paul said to Saint
Brandon: "Thou art better than I, for our Lord hath shewed to thee more
privities than he hath done to me; wherefore, thou oughtest to be more
praised than I."

To whom Saint Paul said: "Some time I was a monk of Saint Patrick's
abbey in Ireland and was warden of the place whereas men enter into
Saint Patrick's Purgatory, and on a day there came one to me and I
asked him what he was, and he said: 'I am your abbot, Patrick, and
charge thee that thou depart from hence tomorn early to the sea-side,
and there thou shalt find a ship into which thou must enter, which
God has ordained for thee, whose will thou must accomplish.' And so
the next day I arose and went forth, and found the ship, in which I
entered, and, by the purveyance of God, was I brought into this island
the seventh day after. And then I left the ship and went to land, and
there I walked up and down a good while, and then, by the purveyance
of God, there came an otter, going upon his hinder feet, and brought
me a flint stone and an iron to smite fire with, in the two foreclaws
of his feet, and also, he had about his neck great plenty of fish,
which he cast down before me and went his way. And I smote fire, and
made a fire of sticks, and did seethe the fish, by which I lived three
days. And then the otter came again and brought me fish for other three
days, and thus he hath done this fifty-one years, through the grace of
God. And there was a great stone out of which our blessed Lord made to
spring fair water clear and sweet, whereof I drink daily. And thus have
I lived one and fifty years. I was forty years old when I came hither,
and am now an hundred and eleven years old, and abide till it please
our Lord Jesu Christ to send for me; and if it pleased Him, I would
fain be discharged of this wretched life."

And then he bade Saint Brandon to take of the water of the well and to
carry it into his ship, "for it is time that thou depart, for thou hast
a great journey to do, for thou shalt sail to an island which is forty
days' sailing hence, where thou shalt hold thine Easter like as thou
hast done tofore, whereas the tree of birds is. And from thence thou
shalt sail into the Land of Behest, and shalt abide there forty days,
and after return home into thy country in safety."

And then these holy men took leave each of other, and they wept both
full sore, and kissed each other. Then Saint Brandon entered into the
ship, and sailed forty days even south, in full great tempest, and on
Easter Even they came to their procurator, which made to them good
cheer, as he had beforetime. And from thence they came to the great
fish whereon they said matins and mass on Easter Day, and when the mass
was done, the fish began to move and swam forth fast into the sea,
whereof the monks were sore aghast which stood upon him, for it was
a great marvel to see such a fish, so great as all a country, for to
swim so fast in the water, but, by the will of our Lord, this fish set
all the monks aland in the Paradise of Birds, all whole and sound, and
then returned to the place he came from. And then Saint Brandon and his
monks thanked our Lord of their deliverance of the great fish, and kept
their Eastertide till Trinity Sunday, like as they had done beforetime.

And after this they took their ship and sailed east forty days, and at
the forty days' end it began to hail right fast, and therewith came a
dark mist which lasted long after, which feared Saint Brandon and his
monks, and they prayed to our Lord to keep and help them. And then anon
came their procurator and bade them to be of good cheer, for they were
come into the Land of Behest.

And soon after, that mist passed away, and anon they saw the fairest
country eastward that any man might see, and it was so clear and
bright that it was a heavenly sight to behold, and all the trees were
charged with ripe fruit, and herb full of flowers. In which land they
walked forty days, but they could not see none end of that land, and
there was always day and never night, and the land temperate, ne too
hot ne too cold.

And at the last they came to a fair river, but they durst not go over,
and there came to them a fair young man, and welcomed them courteously
and called each by name, and did great reverence to Saint Brandon. And
he said to them: "Be ye now joyful, for this is the land that ye have
sought, but our Lord will that ye depart hence hastily, and He will
show you more of His secrets, when ye come again into the sea, and our
Lord will that ye lade your ship with the fruit of this land, and hie
you hence, for ye may no longer abide here, but thou shalt sail again
to thine own country, and soon after thou comest home thou shalt die.
And this water that thou seest here departeth the world asunder, for on
that other side of this water may no man come that is in this life. And
the fruit that ye see here is always thus ripe every time of the year;
and always it is here light as ye now see. And he that keepeth our
Lord's hests at all times shall see this land or he pass out of this

And then Saint Brandon and his monks took of that fruit as much as they
would, and also took with them great plenty of precious stones, and
then took their leave, and went to ship weeping sore because they might
no longer abide there. And then they took their ship and came home into
Ireland in safety, whom their brethren received with great joy, giving
thankings to our Lord, which had kept them all these seven years from
many a peril and brought them home in safety, to whom be given honour
and glory, world without end. Amen.

And soon after, this holy man, Saint Brandon, waxed feeble and sick
and had but little joy of this world, but ever after his joy and mind
was in the joys of heaven. And in a short time after, he, being full
of virtues, departed out of this life to everlasting life, and was
worshipfully buried in a fair abbey, which he himself founded, where
our Lord shewed for this holy saint many fair miracles. Wherefore let
us devoutly pray to this holy saint that he pray for us to our Lord
that He have mercy on us; to whom be given laud and honour and empire,
world without end. Amen.

      Translated by William Caxton


_Here followeth the glorious life and passion of the blessed virgin and
martyr Saint Margaret, and first of her name_

Margaret is said of a precious gem, or ouche, that is named a
margaret. Which gem is white, little, and virtuous. So the blessed
Margaret was white by virginity, little by humility, and virtuous by
operation of miracles. The virtue of this stone is said to be against
effusion of blood, against passion of the heart, and to confortation
of the spirit. In like wise the blessed Margaret had virtue against
shedding of her blood by constancy, for in her martyrdom she was most
constant, and also against the passion of the heart, that is to say,
temptation of the devil. For she overcame the devil by victory, and
to the confortation of the spirit by doctrine, for by her doctrine
she comforted much people, and converted to the faith of Christ.
Theoteinus, a learned man, wrote her legend.

The holy Saint Margaret was of the city of Antioch, daughter of
Theodosius, patriarch and prince of the idols of paynims. And she was
delivered to a nurse for to be kept. And when she came to perfect age
she was baptized, wherefore she was in great hate of her father.

On a certain day, when she was fifteen years of age and kept the sheep
of her nurse with other maidens, the provost Olybrius passed by the way
whereas she was, and considered in her so great beauty and fairness,
that anon he burned in her love, and sent his servants and bade them
take her and bring her to him. "For if she be free, I shall take her
to my wife, and if she be bond, I shall make her my concubine." And
when she was presented tofore him he demanded her of her lineage, name,
and religion. And she answered that she was of noble lineage, and for
her name Margaret, and Christian in religion. To whom the provost
said: "The two first things be convenient to thee, that is that thou
art noble and art called Margaret, which is a most fair name, but the
third appertaineth nothing to thee, that so fair a maid and so noble
should have a God crucified." To whom she said: "How knowest thou that
Christ was crucified?" He answered: "By the books of Christian men."
To whom Margaret said: "O what shame is it to you, when you read the
pain of Christ and the glory, and believe one thing and deny another."
And she said and affirmed Him to be crucified by His will for our
redemption, and now liveth ever in bliss. And then the provost, being
wroth, commanded her to be put in prison. And the next day following
he commanded that she should be brought to him, and then said to her:
"O good maid, have pity on thy beauty, and worship our gods, that thou
mayest be well." To whom she said: "I worship Him that maketh the
earth to tremble, whom the sea dreadeth and the winds and creatures
obey." To whom the provost said: "But if thou consent to me I shall
make thy body to be all to-torn." To whom Margaret said: "Christ gave
Himself over to the death for me, and I desire gladly to die for
Christ." Then the provost commanded her to be hanged in an instrument
to torment the people, and to be cruelly first beaten with rods, and
with iron combs to rend and draw her flesh to the bones, insomuch
that the blood ran about out of her body, like as a stream runneth
out of a fresh springing well. They that were there wept, and said:
"O Margaret, verily we be sorry for thee, which see thy body so foul,
and so cruelly torn and rent. O how thy most beauty hast thou lost for
thy incredulity and misbelief! Now believe, and thou shalt live." Then
said she to them: "O evil counsellors, depart ye, and go from me; this
cruel torment of my flesh is salvation of my soul." Then she said to
the provost: "Thou shameless hound and insatiable lion, thou hast power
over my flesh, but Christ reserveth my soul." The provost covered his
face with his mantle, for he might not see so much effusion of blood,
and then commanded that she should be taken down, and to shut her fast
in prison, and there was seen a marvellous brightness in the prison, of
the keepers.

And whilst she was in prison, she prayed our Lord that the fiend that
had fought with her, He would visibly show him unto her. And then
appeared a horrible dragon and assailed her, and would have devoured
her, but she made the sign of the cross, and anon he vanished away. And
in another place it is said that he swallowed her into his belly, she
making the sign of the cross. And the belly brake asunder, and so she
issued out all whole and sound.

This swallowing and breaking of the belly of the dragon is said that it
is apocryphal.

After this the devil appeared to her in likeness of a man for to
deceive her. And when she saw him, she went to prayer and after arose,
and the fiend came to her, and took her by the hand and said: "It
sufficeth to thee that thou hast done, but now cease as to my person."
She caught him by the head and threw him to the ground and set her
right foot on his neck, saying: "Lie still, thou fiend, under the
feet of a woman." The devil then cried: "O blessed Margaret, I am
overcome. If a young man had overcome me I had not recked, but alas! I
am overcome of a tender virgin; wherefore I make the more sorrow, for
thy father and mother have been my good friends." She then constrained
him to tell why he came to her, and he answered that he came to her to
counsel her for to obey the desire and request of the provost. Then
she constrained him to say wherefore he tempted so much and so often
Christian people. To whom he answered that naturally he hated virtuous
men, and though we be oft put aback from them, yet our desire is much
to exclude them from the felicity that they fell from, for we may never
obtain ne recover our bliss that we have lost. And she then demanded
what he was, and he answered: "I am Veltis, one of them whom Solomon
closed in a vessel of brass. And after his death it happed that they of
Babylon found this vessel, and supposed to have founden great treasure
therein, and brake the vessel; and then a great multitude of us devils
flew out and filled full the air alway, awaiting and espying where we
may assail rightful men." And when he had said thus, she took off her
foot and said to him: "Flee hence, thou wretched fiend." And anon the
earth opened, and the fiend sank in. Then she was sure, for when she
had overcome the master, she might lightly overcome the minister.

Then the next day following, when all the people was assembled, she
was presented tofore the judge. And she, not doing sacrifice to their
false gods, was cast into the fire, and her body broiled with burning
brands, in such wise that the people marvelled that so tender a maid
might suffer so many torments. And after that, they put her in a great
vessel full of water, fast bounden, that by changing of the torments,
the sorrow and feeling of the pain should be the more. But suddenly
the earth trembled, and the air was hideous, and the blessed virgin
without any hurt issued out of the water, saying to our Lord: "I
beseech thee, my Lord, that this water may be to me the font of baptism
to everlasting life." And anon there was heard great thunder, and a
dove descended from heaven and set a golden crown on her head. Then
five thousand men believed in our Lord, and for Christ's love they all
were beheaded by the commandment of the provost Olybrius, that time in
Campolymeath, the city of Aurelia.

Then Olybrius, seeing the faith of the holy Margaret immoveable, and
also fearing that others should be converted to the Christian faith
by her, gave sentence and commanded that she should be beheaded. Then
she prayed to one Malchus that should behead her, that she might have
space to pray. And that got, she prayed to our Lord, saying: "Father
Almighty, I yield to Thee thankings that Thou hast suffered me to come
to this glory, beseeching Thee to pardon them that pursue me. And I
beseech Thee, good Lord, that of Thy abundant grace, Thou wilt grant
unto all them that write my passion, read it, or hear, and to them
that remember me, that they may deserve to have plain remission and
forgiveness of all their sins. And also, good Lord, if any woman with
child, travailing in any place, call on me, that Thou wilt keep her
from peril, and that the child may be delivered from her belly without
any hurt of his members." And when she had finished her prayer there
was a voice heard from heaven, saying that her prayers were heard and
granted and that the gates of heaven were open and abode for her, and
bade her come into the country of everlasting rest. Then she, thanking
our Lord, arose up, and bade the hangman accomplish the commandment of
the provost. To whom the hangman said: "God forbid that I should slay
thee, virgin of Christ." To whom she said: "If thou do it not thou
mayest have no part with me." Then he, being afraid and trembling,
smote off her head, and he, falling down at her feet, gave up the ghost.

Then Theoteinus took up the holy body, and bare it into Antioch, and
buried it in the house of a noble woman and widow named Sincletia. And
thus this blessed and holy virgin, Saint Margaret, suffered death, and
received the crown of martyrdom the thirteenth kalends of August, as
is founden in her story; and it is read in another place that it was
the third ides of July. Of this virgin writeth an holy man and saith:
"The holy and blessed Margaret was full of the dread of God, sad,
stable, and worshipful in religion, arrayed with compunction, laudable
in honesty, and singular in patience, and nothing was found in her
contrary to Christian religion; hateful to her father, and beloved of
our Lord Jesu Christ." Then let us remember this holy virgin that she
pray for us in our needs.

      Translated by William Caxton






There was a man beyond the sea, a miner who lived in a city and who
sought under the earth for the stones out of which men get silver and
gold. He worked and dug in the hill, and a dreadful thing happened to
him: a large part of the mine fell down, closing him in. His fellows,
who were loyal to him, believed that he was dead, so they took counsel
together and went to tell his wife. This woman bewailed her husband
sorely (would God there were many such women!). She helped his soul in
all ways by giving alms and offerings. She offered for his sake at the
altar a pitcher full of wine and a fair loaf, also, every day during a
whole twelve months, except on one day. Few such women we find now, who
are so kind to their husbands, but this wife with all her power wrought
for him both day and night.

It happened at the end of the twelve months that his fellows went to
the hill and came to the very place where they had left their companion
at work. They began right there and, piercing through, found the man
in good estate, alive, without any injury or wound. Each one was
filled with amazement, and there was good reason why the men should be
in doubt as to how he had lived all that year. Then he told them how
he had lived there alone. "I have lived a gracious life through the
courtesy of my wife, who every day has sent me wine and bread, except
on one day, when I ate nothing."

They led the man in to the town and told the miracle everywhere
through the city and through the country. At last it happened that
he mentioned the name of the day when he fasted, and his wife said
the same thing,—the day she made no offering was Good Friday. Now you
may hear how a devout deed of alms will feed a man, and so you may
understand that God is always pleased with good offerings.

In spite of this tale, trust not your wives, nor your children, but
make your offerings yourselves. So kind a woman as I have told about
does not live now, you may be sure. And no clerk who reads this will
ever find one of such good deeds. You men who are now present and
hear about the sacrament, know that the sacrament on the altar has
power over all things, as I have shown to the ignorant but not to the
learned, for the clerks know it well. Let us pray our Creator that our
Saviour, the Sacrament, will save us body and soul, and grant that we
may love Him and be His forever.

      Translated by M. H. S.


Lord, Maker of all things, Almighty God in majesty, that ever, without
beginning, wert and art and shall be, grant us both strength and
opportunity so to serve Thy pleasure that we may, through Thy grace,
dwell with Thee for ever and aye!

We ought to bear well in mind those miracles of our Lady which are
written in true story, showing how helpful she ever is to mankind. Once
upon a time it happened in a city,—hearken well and ye may hear,—when
Jews were wont to be together among Christians, Christians dwelt in one
half of the city, and the Jews were forced to live in one street. The
Christian children had made for themselves a pleasant place in a field,
and there a Jew's child often played with them. The child's father
took no heed of this and never cast an eye upon him, therefore the
child came and went whenever he chose to play. So often did they play
together that the Jew's son learned their games and was just like one
of the Christian children, loved and welcomed by them.

At one Easter time, which the Christians kept with great solemnity,
a beautiful minster had been completed in the midst of the city, and
to it the Christian folk went to hear both matins and mass, as, by
Christian rule, is usual for both the high and the low. Every one in
best array, both husbands and wives, attended. The children followed
their fathers, as they were wont, and the Jew's child with right good
cheer was happy to go with them. When he was well within the church, he
thought he had never been so glad as he was at that seemly sight, such
as he had never seen before—both lamps and tapers burning brightly,
altars wonderfully ornamented, and beautifully wrought gold images of
many good saints.

In a chair sat a comely Queen, all decorated with gold; upon her arm
she bore a blissful Babe, in kingly crown as He should be. The child
looked long at that Lady and at that blissful Babe, and noted how
people told their beads before them, as Christian folk do. The Jew's
child felt such pleasure in all the sights he saw and thought them all
so sweet, that he was almost ravished with joy. When high mass of the
day was done, the priest bade all men kneel down; the Jew's child took
heed of this and knelt among the Christians. Although he was pushed
about by the crowd, he was not afraid, and he spared no pains until he
too received the sacrament. Of such a child no one took notice. When
all things were brought to an end, and every Christian drew towards
home, the Jew, seeking his child throughout the town, saw him come from
the church. He asked his son where he had been while he had sought him
all that day, and the boy told the whole story of what he had done and
seen. The father then waxed mad with anger and said at once, "Thou
gettest thy reward"; and going to his hot oven that gleamed as does
a glowing coal, he cast the child into it, intending to burn him to
ashes. With the mouth-stone he sealed the oven, and thought that the
truth would not be revealed.

When his mother heard this, in the very place where she stood she fell
into a frenzy and for woe became as if mad. Always crying out, she
went tearing her hair, in every street in that city, now up, now down,
everywhere, and folk wondered about her and felt great pity. The mayor
and the bailiffs of the town, when they heard that cry, halted her and
made inquiry as to why she cried so wildly and put people in such fear
and sorrowed so, especially on Easter Day. As soon as she could cease
weeping, this woful mother answered, "Sirs, ye have this city to keep;
as lords ye must needs execute law. Alas! alas! I am destroyed, and
must have help of you; I pray for a just judgment; my cause I shall
prove before you. My husband has burned my child—shut him up in a
glowing oven! Go, see, sirs, and I will give you gold enough."

Both mayor and bailiffs, together with the people, went to the Jew's
oven, and as soon as they had arrived, the mayor commanded, "Put down
the stone." Then every man might easily see how the oven roof, that was
round, was in appearance like glowing glass from roof to ground. The
child sat there whole and sound, not harmed in hand nor hair, amidst
the coals which were all about, just as if he sat in a cool arbor. The
child's mother, when she saw that, thought she had never been so glad;
into the oven she started towards him, and soon had him out with her.
And all the people present there wondered at that strange sight and
praised God with good intent, for a miracle is more than man's might.
They asked him, with one consent, how it was that he had had no harm
among the brands that burned so brightly, and the child answered at

"Never in all my life have I had such great happiness as came to me
after I was put into the oven. Both brands and coals, in truth, that
were beneath my feet, like fair flowers, like special spices, seemed
sweet to me. The blissful Queen, that Maiden mild, who sits in church
on her throne, with that comely King, her Child, that blissful Babe
that she holds on her bosom, shielded me from all harm, from coals
and brands that burned so clearly, from all the flames that flowed so
wildly, and they could never come near me."

Then men and women, all who were there, both small and great, low and
high, praised God heartily for this miracle. The Jewess through her
son's word was converted to Christ, anon, and the child and all the
Jews accepted the law of Christ. The mayor himself examined the Jew to
judge of his trespass, and twelve men were sworn to speak the truth and
to give their verdict upon the case. They took counsel together, and
came back with one consent. The words of their verdict were, "In that
same oven he shall be burned."

Thus is ended this story of the miracle written above. Grant us joy in
heaven on high, Lord Jesus, for Thy Mother's love. Amen.

      Translated by M. H. S.


The translation of the glorious martyr, Saint Thomas of Canterbury,
we shall shortly rehearse unto the laud and praising of Almighty God,
then in the fiftieth year after his passion, which was the year of
jubilee, that is, of remission. For, of ancient time, the fiftieth year
was called the year of the jubilee of pardon and remission, and is yet
used among religious men. For when a religious man hath continued in
his order fifty years, then he shall be admitted to make his jubilee,
and that made, he is pardoned and hath remission of many observances
that tofore he was bounden unto. Then in this year of jubilee from his
passion, was the solemnity of his translation accomplished, in the time
of Honorius, the third pope of that name. The which granted yearly
remissions and indulgences so great and large, that tofore in no time
of mind hath been seen any popes to have granted and given like. Then
let us call to mind that on a Tuesday his translation was accomplished.
On the Tuesday happed to him many things. On a Tuesday he was born,
on a Tuesday he was exiled, on a Tuesday our Lord appeared to him at
Pountney in France, saying: "Thomas, my church shall be glorified in
thy blood." On a Tuesday he returned from his exile, and on a Tuesday
he suffered martyrdom.

Then how this holy translation was fulfilled now ye shall hear. The
reverend father in God, Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard,
Bishop of Salisbury, Walter, the prior of the same place, with the
convent, with spiritual songs and devout hymns, when it was night,
went to the sepulchre of this holy martyr, and all that night and day
of his translation they persevered in prayers and fastings. And after
midnight, four priests, elected and thereto chosen, approaching to his
body, took up the holy head with great devotion and reverence, and unto
them all offered it for to kiss it. Then the archbishop and all the
others made great honour to it, and took all the relics of the precious
body, and laid them in a chest, and shut it fast with iron locks, and
set it in a place for to be kept unto the day that the translation
should be solemnized. The day then of this holy translation being come,
there were present a great innumerable multitude of people, as well of
rich as of poor. There was Pandulphus, a legate of our holy father the
pope, and two archbishops of France, of Rheims and Arles, with many
other bishops and abbots, and also King Harry the Third with earls and
barons, which king himself took the chest upon his shoulders, and with
the other prelates and lords, brought it with great joy and honour in
to the place where it is now worshipped, and was laid in a fair and
much rich shrine. At whose holy translation were showed, by the merits
of this holy martyr, Saint Thomas, many miracles. To blind men was
given their sight, to deaf men their hearing, to dumb men their speech,
and to dead men was restored life.

Among all others there was a man, because of great devotion that he had
to be at this holy translation and visit the holy martyr, which came
to the bridge at Brentford by London; and when he was in the middle of
the bridge, meeting there one, was cast into the water. This man, not
forgetting himself, called Saint Thomas unto his help, and besought
him not to suffer his pilgrim to perish, ne to be there drowned. And
five times he sank down to the ground, and five times arose above the
water, and then he was cast to the dry ground. Then he affirmed that
he received no water into his mouth, nor into his ears that did to him
grievance nor hurt that he felt, save in his falling he felt in his
mouth a little salt water; and added more thereto, saying that, when he
sank, a bishop held him up that he might not sink.

This holy translation was done and accomplished the year of our Lord
twelve hundred and twenty, in the nones of July, at three o'clock, in
the fiftieth year after his passion. For this glorious saint our Lord
hath showed many great miracles, as well by his life, as after his
death and martyrdom. For a little tofore his death a young man died and
was raised again by miracle. And he said that he was led to see the
holy order of saints in heaven, and there he saw a seat void, and he
asked for whom it was, and it was answered to him that it was kept for
the great Bishop of England, Saint Thomas of Canterbury. There was also
a simple priest that daily sang no other mass but of our Lady, whereof
he was put to Saint Thomas his ordinary, whom accused, he opposed,
and found him full simple of conning, wherefore he suspended him, and
inhibited him his mass. Wherefore this priest was full sorry, and
prayed humbly to our blessed Lady that he might be restored again to
say his mass. And then our blessed Lady appeared to this priest, and
bade him go to Saint Thomas, and bid him "by the token that the lady
whom thou servest hath sewed his shirt of hair with red silk, which he
shall find there as he laid it, that he give thee leave to sing mass,
and assoil thee of his suspending and thine inhibiting, and restore
thee again to thy service." And when Saint Thomas heard this he was
greatly abashed, and went and found like as the priest had said, and
then assoiled him to say mass as he did before, commanding him to keep
this thing secret as long as he lived.

There was a lady in England that desired greatly to have grey eyes, for
she had a conceit that she should be the more beauteous in the sight
of the people; and only for that cause she made a vow to visit Saint
Thomas upon her bare feet. And when she came thither, and had devoutly
made her prayers to have her desire, suddenly she wax stark blind, and
then she perceived that she had offended and displeased our Lord in
that request, and cried God mercy of that offence, and besought him
full meekly to be restored of her sight again. And by the merits of the
blessed Saint Thomas she was restored to her sight again, and was glad
to have her old eyes, and returned home again, and lived holy to her
life's end. Also there was a lord's carver that brought water to him at
his table, to whom the lord said: "If thou hast ever stolen anything
of mine, I pray God and Saint Thomas that thou have no water in the
bason," and suddenly it was all void of the water and dry, and there
was he proved a thief.

There was a tame bird kept in a cage, which was learned to speak. And
on a time he fled out of the cage and flew into the field; and there
came a sparrowhawk and would have taken this bird and pursued after.
And the bird, being in great dread, cried: "Saint Thomas! help!" like
as he had heard others speak, and the sparrowhawk fell down dead, and
the bird escaped harmless.

Also there was a man that Saint Thomas loved much in his days, and he
fell in a grievous sickness, wherefore he went to the tomb of Saint
Thomas to pray for his health; and anon he had his desire and was all
whole. And as he turned homeward, being all whole, then he began to
dread lest this health should not be the most profitable for his soul.
Then he returned again to the tomb of Saint Thomas, and prayed if his
health were not profitable to his soul that his old sickness might
come again to him. And it came anon again to him, and endured unto
his life's end. And in like wise there was a devout blind man which
had his sight restored to him again by the merit of Saint Thomas; but
after, he repented him, for he could not be so quiet in his mind as
he was before, he had then so much letting by seeing the vanities of
the world. Wherefore he prayed to our Lord that by the merits of Saint
Thomas he might be blind again to the world as he was before, and anon
he had his desire, and lived after full holily to his life's end. Who
should tell all the miracles that our blessed Lord hath showed for this
holy martyr, it should overmuch endure, for ever sith his passion unto
this day, God hath showed continually for him many great miracles. Then
let us pray this holy saint to be a special advocate for us wretched
sinners unto our Lord God, who bring us unto His everlasting bliss in

      Translated by William Caxton




The King had a castle made, after His own device, so that it would
never dread the assault of any enemies. He set it on a white rock,
thick and high, with good ditches all about, deep and wide. Men can
never undermine this castle by any kind of craft, nor can any engine do
it harm. The castle is ever full of love and grace for any one who has
need of succor. Four towers it has, with fair battlements, and three
courts. Heart cannot think nor can tongue tell all the bounty and the
beauty of this castle. Seven barbicans are set so securely that no
manner of shooting from without can cause harm. The castle is painted
on the outside in three colors: a red burning color is above, towards
the fair towers; the color of the middle portion is blue softer than
indigo; and near the ground is green that never changes hue.

These colors cast such light both far and near that when men behold
them it greatly comforts their sight. The castle, within, is ever
blanched as white as any driven snow. Four fair streams flow out of a
well in the middle of the highest tower and fill the ditches. So fair
and so good is the water, that he who drinks of it has great bliss.
A throne of ivory there was set in this tower, and seven steps lead
upward, with great worship and honor. Never was a throne half so fair
seen in this world; nor did prince or queen ever have so beautiful
a one. It was made subtilely, by wondrous design, and a rainbow
steadfastly arched above it. The King's Son made it for His own seat;
never was there one so fair, nor shall there ever be.

This castle of solace and of succor is the blessed body of her who bore
our Saviour, and is a refuge for all mankind. Whosoever flees thither
shall find succor. The rock, white and fair and stable, is her heart in
all its holiness, that made her serve God without fear, in sovereign
purity of meekness and maidenhood. The green color, by the ground, that
will last so well, is the truth of our lady, aye steadfast. The central
color in the midst of this castle wall is enduring hope to attain the
grace that saves mankind. The red color above, burning to the sight, is
the burning love of God and man, that gives great light. No wonder if
this castle is wholly white within, for the heart of that maiden was
never defiled with sin. The four towers, great and strong, so fair to
see, were ghostly strength and soberness, righteousness and skill.[44]
These four virtues drive out all manner of wickedness, and keep fast,
within, all goodness.

The courts, one within another, in three stages, are clean maidenhood,
motherhood, and true wifehood. There never was a woman except Saint
Mary with all these three, but whosoever would be saved from sin, must
have one of these. The seven barbicans we call the seven fair virtues,
that suffered no vice to be in our Lady. Great meekness in her heart
forever vanquished pride; envy could not abide her great charity; her
devout abstinence destroyed all gluttony, and her clean maidenhood
forbade lechery; wicked covetousness might never dwell in her heart,
because wilful poverty guarded that castle; patience was always
watching, so that the sin of wrath could never have resting place.
There was in her heart so much spiritual comfort that the sin of sloth
could never dwell therein. The fair well of the castle, that ever fills
the ditches, is grace in God's mother, ever dear to sinful man. Thou
who hast need of grace, go to the well-spring; whosoever has her help
will never go to hell. Make the ditches of meekness and of good will,
and the four streams of grace shall soon fill thee: one stream evermore
shall wash thee clean of sin, another shall make thee steadfast against
temptation, the third shall bear thee to bliss that is for aye. This
well is evermore the spring of mercy and of pity. The throne of ivory
is the soul of our sweet Lady; the seven steps leading thereto are the
seven works of mercy; the rainbow of three colors bending over it is
the might of the holy Trinity, covering her. No wonder if this castle
is fair to see, since God, the sun of righteousness, would alight
therein. He came through the closed gate just as the bright sunbeam
comes and goes through the glass. All that man has need of is in this
castle; he who has its help has happiness enough.

      Translated by M. H. S.






The lion stands upon a hill, and if he hears a man hunting, or through
his nostrils scents one approaching, he fills all his own footsteps, as
he goes down to the dale, by drawing either dust or dew into them with
his tail, so that the hunter cannot find him, and thus he speeds to his
den and there shelters himself.


Another nature he has. When he is born he lies still and stirs not from
sleep until the sun has shone thrice about him, then his father rouses
him by the cry he makes.


The third habit the lion has is this: when he lies down to sleep he
never closes the lids of his eyes.



Very high is that hill which is the kingdom of heaven; our Lord is the
Lion, who lives there above. Though He chose to alight here on earth,
the devil, even if he be a crafty hunter, could never know how He came
down nor how He dwelt in that humble maiden, Mary by name, who bore Him
for the salvation of men.


Though our Lord was dead, and buried, as was His will, and lay still
in a stone until the third day, His father aided Him, so that He arose
from the dead, to keep us alive. He watches, according to His will,
as a shepherd, and we are the sheep; He will shield us if we hear His
word, and go nowhere astray.



I will make known to you the nature of the eagle, as I read about it in
a book; how he renews his youth and how he emerges from old age when
his limbs are unwieldy and his beak all twisted, and his flight is
weak and his eyes dim; hear how he recreates himself. He seeks a well
which springs up ever, both by night and by day; over that he flies,
and up he soars until he passes through the sixth and the seventh skies
and reaches heaven, and hovers as close as he can to the sun. The sun
scorches his wings and makes his eyes bright; his feathers fall out
because of the heat, and he falls down then into the water to the
bottom of the well, where he becomes whole and sound and comes out all
new, except that his beak is crooked. Since his beak is twisted, though
his limbs are strong, he cannot procure food for himself. Then he goes
to a stone and strikes his beak on it and continues to strike it until
his beak loses all its crookedness, and at once with his straight bill
he seizes what food he likes.


Man is like unto the eagle,—if you will listen,—old in his secret sins,
ere he becomes a Christian. Before he had considered his sins his eyes
were murky. Thus he may renew himself if he goes to church, and, there
renouncing Satan and every sinful deed, betakes himself to Jesus
Christ, who will be his reward. He believes in our Lord Christ, and
learns the teachings of the priest, and the mist departs from his eyes
while he lingers there. His hope is all fixed upon God, and he learns
of His love which, like the sun, again restores his sight. Naked he
falls in the font, and comes out all new, except for one little thing.
What is that? His mouth is still untrue, his mouth is still unfamiliar
with pater noster and creed. If he goes north or if he goes south he
will soon discover his need; he will beg a favor from God and thus will
make his mouth perfect; so may he gain his soul's food, through the
grace of our Lord.



The whale is the largest fish that is in the ocean. You would say, if
you should see it afloat, that it is an island, that sits upon the sea
sand. When this fish, so unwieldy, is hungry he opens his jaws wide,
and out of his throat comes a sweet odor, the sweetest thing that is
on earth. When other fish perceive it they are glad to draw near; they
come and hover in his mouth, unaware of his deceit. Then the whale
shuts his jaws, sucking in all these fish. It is only the small ones
he thus deceives; the big ones he cannot catch. This fish dwells at
the bottom of the ocean, and lives there, always hale and well, until
it comes to be the time when storms stir all the sea. Then summer
and winter contend, and the whale cannot stay there, because the sea
bottom is so turbid, so he rises and lies still, while the weather is
so bad. Sailors in the ships driven about on the sea, dreading to die
and anxious to live, look around and see this fish, and, believing it
is an island, are very happy as they draw near; with all their strength
they cast anchor, and go upon the island. By flint and steel they start
a fire burning well on this wonder, and warm themselves, and eat and
drink. The whale, feeling the fire, sinks them, for he quickly dives
down to the bottom of the sea and thus drowns them all.


This devil is strong in wile and might, as witches are in their craft;
he makes men hunger and thirst and have sinful desires; he entices
men to him with his breath; whoever follows him finds shame. It is
the ones of little faith whom he deceives, not those who are strong
and steadfast in flesh and spirit, holding to the true faith. He who
listens to the devil's teachings will at last repent it sorely; he who
fastens his hope on him will follow him to dim hell.



In the sea are many wonders. The mermaid is like a maiden to the waist,
but otherwise she is exactly like a fish with fins. This marvel dwells
in dangerous places where the water is shallow, and she sinks ships and
works harm thus. Merrily this maid sings, and she has many voices,—many
and shrill,—but they are all evil, for sailors forget their steering
because of her singing, and they slumber and sleep and wake too late;
and the ships sink with the confusion, and come up nevermore. Wise men
and wary know how to flee, and often escape with uncorrupted heart. By
this maiden of whom you have heard, this monster half human and half
fish, something is betokened.


Many men illustrate the meaning of this example: without, they wear the
skin of sheep; within, they are wolves wholly; they speak piously, but
wicked are their deeds; their deeds are all unlike what their mouths
speak. Twofold they are in spirit,—they swear by the cross, by the
sun, and by the moon, and they lie both in their speech and in their
singing. They deceive thee then; they destroy thy goods with treachery
and thy soul with lying.

      Translated by M. H. S.




Evax, king of Arabia, sent to Nero, the emperor of Rome, a book which
he had written concerning the nature of stones, telling their kinds,
their names, their colors, in what lands they are found, and the
virtues that they have. Many of their virtues are hidden, but others
are well known. Doctors who know the powers of gems find them of great
aid in their medicines. No wise man can doubt that God has placed great
virtue in stones, as He has in herbs.


The diamond is as clear as crystal, but it has also the aspect of
steel. It is found in India. Such great hardness it has that neither
with iron nor with fire can it be cut, but if it is soaked in the hot
blood of a goat, a man can work it on the anvil with a hammer. The
sharp splinters which are broken off are used to cut other gems. This
stone is no bigger than a hazel-nut. In Arabia there is a kind of
diamond, not so hard, which can be cut without goat's blood. It is not
so beautiful nor so valuable as the other, although it is larger. A
third species comes from Cypress, and a fourth from Greece. Each one
has the power of attracting iron. Enchanters use this stone in their
enchantments. It gives to the man who carries it strength and virtue;
it protects him from bad dreams, from phantoms, from all poisons, and
from all hates and discord; it cures madmen, and defends a man against
his enemies. It should be set in gold or in silver, and worn upon the
left arm.


Sapphire is fit for the fingers of kings; it is resplendent and like
the sky when free from clouds; there is no other stone which has
greater virtue or beauty. Men call it Syrtites because it is found in
the sand of Libya near the Syrtes. The best is that which is found in
Turkey, for this is not translucent. It is of such great virtue that
it is by right called the gem of all gems. It comforts the body and
keeps its members whole; it overcomes envy and treachery, and it drives
away fear. It frees a man from prison and looses heavy fetters; it is
good for effecting reconciliation, and is better than any other stone
for seeing in the water the signs which reveal things hitherto not
known. As medicine it is valuable because it cools an internal fever;
if a person dissolves it in milk it will cure bad diseases. It is good
for the eyes, and for headache, and for disease of the tongue. He who
carries it must be chaste.


The amethyst has a purple color, or sometimes is like violet or like
drops of wine or like a rose. Some there are which turn almost white,
others are like red wine mixed with water. From India it comes; it is
easy to work, and it prevents intoxication. It would be precious if it
were not so abundant, but it is commonplace since there is so much of
it. There are five kinds.


Geratite is black. It is of such a nature that if a man opens his mouth
and puts the stone under his tongue he will divine what another person
thinks of him, and can win any woman's devotion. This stone can be
tried as follows: let a man anoint himself with milk and honey, go out
into the sunshine where insects swarm, and if he has the stone in his
mouth the insects will not attack him; if he removes the stone they
will at once sting him.


Chelidonius is a stone which one finds in the stomach of a swallow. It
is not very beautiful, but it surpasses all the beautiful stones in
usefulness. It is of ten sorts and of two colors—black and red. The
red is good for the frenzy which seizes people who are moon-struck; it
restores their sanity to madmen and cures those who are pining away. He
who carries this stone will be a good orator and will be much beloved.
One must carry it wrapped in linen cloth and suspended under the left
arm. The black, if worn in the same way, aids a man to accomplish
important things he has undertaken; it is also a help against the
threats and rages of kings and princes. The water in which it is washed
is helpful to diseased eyes. If wrapped in linen cloth of saffron tint,
it drives away fever and restrains the humors which injure the body.


Coral is a stone which grows in the sea like a tree. It is green
there where it grows, but when it is exposed to the air it hardens
and becomes red. It is like a bush hardly half a foot high. It is
very good to carry about, as say the authors Zoroaster and Metrodorus,
for it protects one from lightning and tempest, and if one scatters
it on vines or among olive trees, or upon a seeded field, it will be
a protection from hail and other storms. It makes fruits multiply,
it drives away phantoms, it gives a good beginning and a prosperous


Heliotrope is of such a nature that if one puts it in a basin of water
opposite the sun, it makes the sun become red and creates an eclipse.
In a little while it makes the water boil up over the basin's edge, and
fall like a shower of rain. He who wears this can prophesy many things.
It gives a man praise and good health, it stanches the flow of blood,
it overcomes poison and treachery. Any one who takes the herb called
heliotrope and binds the two together with the proper incantation can
walk where he pleases and no one will see him. This stone comes from
Ethiopia, from Cypress, and from Africa. It is very much like the
emerald, but has red spots.


The pearl is found in a shell, and it is called _unio_ (union), because
it is always found alone. The wise say that the oyster shells are open
at certain times, and they receive the dew of heaven; the morning dews
become white and clear pearls, while the evening dews are obscure. The
young shells produce clearer pearls than the old ones do. The more
dew the shells receive, the larger is the pearl, but no one is ever
more than half an ounce in weight. If there is thunder when the dew
is received, then the pearls perish. They grow in India and in Great


Pantheros is of various colors,—black, red, green, gray, purple, and
rose color. All these shades appear in combination. Whoever sees it in
the morning will not be defeated in battle, that day, nor in any other
undertaking. In India there is a beast, of divers colors, called the
panther, of whom other beasts are afraid, and this stone is named after

Symbolism of the Carbuncle[47]

The carbuncle is red, and surpasses the wonders of all other stones.
The books tell us that the gentle carbuncle, fine and clear, is the
lord of all stones, the gem of all gems, and has the virtue of precious
stones, above all. It is of such superiority, that when he who wears
it comes among people, all accord him honor and grace, and rejoice in
his coming. The books tell us that the beasts who drink of the stream
where carbuncles have been washed, are cured of their malady; and the
wretched who in good faith look at this stone are comforted and forget
their adversity. By the virtue which God has sent, it soothes the eyes,
comforts the heart and the body, and gives man lordship more than do
those stones which are larger. Carbuncles are found in Libya in the
river of paradise. The book of Moses says that God commanded that the
carbuncle should be first in the second row of twelve stones. By night
and by day it illumines all, and restores and lightens the heart.
Sunlight does not take away any of its great and joy-giving color.
Moses tells us that it signifies Jesus Christ, who came into the world
to lighten our darkness, and Saint John, speaking of the coming of
Jesus Christ, said He is the true Light who gives light to all men and
to all the world. Isaiah the prophet said of Him that the people who
walked in darkness have seen a great Light. Saint John did not find the
carbuncle among the foundations of the celestial kingdom of Jerusalem,
for all who desire to behold the carbuncle and the clearness of the
true sun must turn to the true light of Jesus Christ.

Symbolism of the Twelve Stones[48]

Twelve stones there are in this world which have great significance.
I shall not fail briefly to say what each one signifies. Red jasper
signifies love; the green, faith; the white, sweetness. Sapphire means
that he who has faith shall reign together with God. Chalcedony, which
is the color of fire, shows who will be neighbors with God. Emerald
signifies the faith which the Christians have in Him; sardonyx,
chastity and humility among the saints; sardius, the sorrows which they
had on earth for their love of God; chrysolite, the life celestial that
they have after the life terrestrial; beryl, purification, which the
saints pronounce to the people. Topaz signifies to us the crown of holy
life; chrysoprase, the reward which holy men will hold very dear; and
jacinth is a sign of the light which the saints have from the Creator.
Amethyst shows the martyrdom which God suffered.

      Translated by M. H. S.




It is forbidden a clerk in orders to perform or to see miracle plays,
for they are sinful gatherings and sights. He may, in church, play
the resurrection, showing how God rose, and thus make men believe
faithfully that Christ rose in flesh and blood, and he may play without
harm the part showing how God was born in Yule night, and thus teach
men to believe steadfastly that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. If
he plays parts in the streets or in groves, it seems truly a sinful
sight. Saint Isidore bears witness to this, for he says, "These men
forsake what they accepted,—God and Christianity, when they take part
in such things as miracle plays or in games or tournaments of great
price." These are pomps that thou didst forsake when thou didst accept
Christianity. At the font the ignorant man says, "I forsake thee, here,
Satan, and all thy pomps and thy works." This is the instruction thou
hast had as a clerk. Hast thou kept thy promise when thou dost take
part in such performances? Thou hast broken thy covenant with God, and
dost serve thy sire, Termagant. Saint Isidore says in his writings,
"All those who delight in seeing such things, or who lend horse or
harness for them, are perilously guilty." If a priest or a clerk lends
a vestment which has been hallowed by the sacrament, he, more than
others, is to be blamed, for he shall have the infamy which attends
sacrilege, and shall be chastised as is right.

Dances, carols, and summer games bring shame in many ways; when thou
dost plan to take part in these thou art slothful in God's service, and
shalt be punished for thy sin.

What say you of minstrels, all of whom delight in such things? Their
deeds are full of peril, and dear neither to God nor to God's house.
They would rather hear of a dance or of deeds of boasting and of pride
than any good of God in heaven, or other wisdom that may be named. In
folly is spent all that they get,—on their dress, their drink, and
their meat. And because of such things, I shall tell you what once
befell a minstrel. Saint Gregory tells this story:

A minstrel, a goliardys,[50] came once to a bishop's house, and asked
for charity. The porter let him enter. At meal time the board was laid;
and when the benison should have been said, this minstrel made melody
with music loud and high. By report, the bishop was a holy man. He sat
down at the table, and should have blessed the food, with a word, but
he was so disturbed by the noise of the minstrelsy that he did not say
grace, as he usually did, very devoutly.

The bishop complained sorely, and said to all those who were there that
he would not put the benison above the grace of charity. He saw well,
in spirit, that vengeance was approaching speedily, and said, "Give him
his alms, and let him go. Death approaches, which will slay him." The
minstrel received charity, and then departed, and as he passed out of
the gate, a stone fell down from the wall, and slew him there. That
betokened that God was not pleased with what the minstrel did, when he
disturbed the devotion of the good man.

This is told for the sake of gleemen, so that they will take some heed
as to where it is proper to make music, and also for the sake of those
who listen, so that they will not love minstrelsy too dearly, nor have
for it such affection that they will worship heaven's King the less.

I shall tell you what I have heard of this bishop, Saint Robert, whose
surname is Grossteste of Lincoln. He loved to hear the harp, for it
makes the wit of man keen. Next his chamber, beside his study, was his
harper's chamber. Many times, by night and by day, he found solace
in notes and lays. Some one asked him why he had such delight in
minstrelsy, and he told why he held the harper dear: "The virtue of the
harp will destroy the fiend's might, and rightly the harp is likened to
the cross. Another thing comforts me,—if God has given to a piece of
wood the power to make men hear so much joy, even more joy, there must
be where God Himself dwells. The harp often reminds me of the joy and
bliss where God is. Therefore, good men, you should learn when you hear
a gleeman, to worship God with all your might, according as David says
in the Psalter, 'in harp, in tabor, and in symphony, worship God; in
trumpets and psaltery, in stringed instruments and organs, and in bells
ringing, in all these worship heaven's King.' If you do thus, I say
boldly, you may hear your minstrelsy."

      Translated by M. H. S.







    Much argument is heard of late,
    The subject I'll attempt to state,
    A question for dispute, I fear,
    That will hang on for many a year.
    The student-folk of Paris town
    (I speak of those in cap and gown,
    Students of art, philosophy,—
    In short, "the University,"
    And not our old-time learned men)
    Have stirred up trouble here again.
    Nothing they'll gain, it seems to me,
    Except more bitter enmity,
    Till there is no peace, day or night.
    Does such a state of things seem right?

    To give his son a chance to stay
    In Paris, growing wise each day,
    Is some old peasant's one ambition.
    To pay his bills and his tuition
    The poor hard-working father slaves;
    Sends him each farthing that he saves,
    While he in misery will stay
    On his scant plot of land to pray
    That his hard toil may help to raise
    His son to honor and to praise.

    But once the son is safe in town
    The story then reads upside down.
    Forgetting all his pledges now,
    The earnings of his father's plow
    He spends for weapons, not for books.
    Dawdling through city streets, he looks
    To find some pretty, loitering wench,
    Or idle brawl by tavern bench;
    Wanders at will and pries about,
    Till money fails and gown wears out.—
    Then he starts fresh on the old round;
    Why sow good seed on barren ground?
    Even in Lent when men should do
    Something pleasing in God's view,
    Your students then elect to wear
    For penitence, no shirts of hair,
    But swaggering hauberks, as they sit
    Drowning in drink their feeble wit;
    While three or four of them excite
    Four hundred students to a fight,
    And close the University.
    (Not such a great calamity!)

    Yet, heavens, for one of serious mind
    What life more pleasing can you find
    Than earnest scholar's life may be?
    More pains than precious gems has he,
    And while he's struggling to grow wise,
    Amusements he must sacrifice,—
    Give up his feasting and his drinking,
    And spend his time in sober thinking.
    His life is just about as merry
    As is a monk's in a monastery.
    Why send a boy away to school
    There to become an arrant fool?
    When he should be acquiring sense,
    He wastes his time and all his pence,
    And to his friends brings only shame,
    While they suppose him winning fame.

              Translated by Marion E. Markley


Far in the sea west of Spain is a land called Cockaygne. There is no
land except the kingdom of heaven its equal in happiness and goodness;
though paradise is joyful and bright, Cockaygne is still fairer. What
is there in paradise but grass and flowers and green branches? Though
joy and great pleasure are in paradise, yet there is no food but fruit;
there is no hall, no bower, no bench, and nothing but water to quench
one's thirst. Only two men live there, Enoch and Elias; a wretched life
must they lead where no other men dwell.

In Cockaygne is meat and drink, without care or trouble or toil. The
meat is dainty; the drink is pure wine at noon and at supper. This land
has no peer on earth; verily there is no place under heaven so full of
joy and bliss.

In that land is many a sweet sight; it is always day and never night;
there is no strife nor quarrel; there is no death, but only lasting
life; there is no lack of food nor dress; there is no angry man nor
woman; there is no serpent, wolf, nor fox, horse nor colt, ox nor cow;
there is no sheep nor swine nor goat nor steed nor stables. There
are no flies nor fleas nor other insects in town or bed or house, no
serpents nor snails, nor is there thunder, sleet, nor hail, storm,
rain, nor wind; there is no blind man nor woman, but everywhere is jest
and joy and glee. Well fares it with him who there may dwell.

Rivers flow there, wide and fair, of oil, of milk, of honey, and of
wine. Water serves there only two uses,—to look at, and to use for
washing. There are many kinds of fruit, and everywhere is solace and

There is a fair abbey of white monks and of gray; there are bowers and
halls; the walls are all of pasties, of flesh, of fish, and of rich
meats,—the very best a man may eat. Flour cakes are the shingles of
church, cloister, bower, and hall. The pinnacles are fat puddings, rich
food for princes and kings; men may eat as much as they please, without
any danger. All things are in common to both old and young, to strong
and weak, to meek and bold.

There is a cloister fair and light, broad and long and beautiful. All
the pillars of that cloister are of crystal, with bases and capitals
of green jasper and red coral. In the meadow is a tree, most pleasing
to the sight. The root is ginger and galingale; the shoots are all
of zedoary; the finest maces are the flowers; the rind is sweet
smelling cinnamon; and the fruit is clove of goodly taste. Cubebs are
not lacking, either. There are roses red of hue, and lilies, also,
fair to see. They never fade by day nor by night, this should be a
pleasant sight. There are four wells in the abbey, made of triacle
and aromatic plants, of balm and also of spiced wine, ever fed by
underground streams. Precious stones and gold are there, sapphire,
pearl, carbuncle, astrion, emerald, liguros and chrysoprase, beryl,
onyx and topaz, amethyst and chrysolite, chalcedony and epetite. There
are many birds,—the throstle, thrush, and nightingale, the lark and the
woodpecker, and other birds without number, that never cease singing
merrily day nor night.

More, however, there is to tell you; geese roasted on the spit fly to
that abbey and cry: "Geese, all hot, all hot." They bring plenty of
garlick, the best you could ever look for. The larks, that are familiar
food, light in a man's mouth, all stewed daintily and powdered with
clove and cinnamon. There is never any question of drink, but every one
takes enough, yet does not toil.

When the monks go to mass, all the glass windows turn to bright
crystal, to give the monks more light. When the masses are all said,
the crystal turns again to glass, in the state that it was before....
[The rest of the poem satirizes the morals of the monks.]

      Translated by M. H. S.


    I heard men upon earth make many a moan,
      Of how they were harried in their task of tilling:
    Good years and grain are both of them gone,
      We enjoy here no tales, and have no song to sing.
    Now we must work, no way else is known,
      I may no longer live by my gleaning.
    Yet even a bitterer demand has upgrown,
      For ever the fourth penny goes to the king.

    Thus we complain of the king and have cares that are cold;
      Though we dream of recovery we are ever downcast.
    He who has any goods which he hoped he could hold
      Learns that what we love most we must lose at the last.

    Loath are we to lose what little there is,
      And we have our henchmen who will for pay sue.
    The hayward[54] bodes harm if we have aught of his,
      The bailiff[55] with blows shows how well he can do,
    The woodward[56] awaits in the watched wilderness:
      Neither riches nor rest will arise for us few.
    Thus they pillage the poor, who have little of bliss,
      And must sweat at their toil and waste away too.

    He must needs waste away, whatever he swore,
      Who hath not a hood his own head to hide.
    Thus will walks in the land, and law is no more,
      And picked from the poor is the persecutor's pride.

    Thus they pillage the poor and pick them all clean,
      And the rich men are ruling without any right;
    Their lands and their people all lie very lean,
      Through demands of the bailiffs such sorrows alight.
    Men of religion[57] are abject and mean
      As are baron and bondman,[58] the clerk and the knight.
    Thus will walks in the land and sorrow is seen,
      Falsehood grows fat and mars all with his might.

    He stands still in a spot and shows a stern soul,
      Who makes beggars wander with long staves and bags;
    Thus we are hunted from hall and from hole,
      And those who wore robes are now wearing rags.

    And then come the beadles[59] with many a boast:
      "Supply me with silver for the green wax,[60]
    Thou art set down in my writ as thou thyself know'st,"
      Yet more than ten times have I paid my tax.
    Then I must furnish hens for the roast,
      And fairly, each fish day, have lamprey and lax.[61]
    If I go to the market, I lose, at the most,
      Though I sell my bill[62] and my big axe.

    I may place my pledge well if I will,
      Or sell my corn when it's green as the grass;
    Yet I am a foul churl, though they have their fill;
      What I've saved all the year I must spend at this pass.

    Needs must I spend what I've saved from of yore,
      Against the coming of catchpoles I must take care;

    The master beadle comes in like a brutish boar
      And says he will make my dwelling all bare,
    So then I must bribe him, with one mark or more,
      Although I at the set day should sell my own mare;
    Thus the green wax grieves us neath our garments poor,
      So that men hunt us as hound does the hare.

    They hunt us as hound does a hare on a hill;
      Since I took to the land such woe I've been taught.
    The beadles have never had quite all their fill,
      For they slip away, and it's we who are caught.

    Thus I catch and I carry cares that are cold,
      Since I have had cottage and reckoning to keep.
    To seek silver for the king, my seed I have sold,
      And my land has lain fallow and learned how to sleep.
    Since they took my fair cattle away from the fold,
      When I think of old joys I am ready to weep;
    Thus are bred so many of these beggars bold,
      And our rye is rotten and rank ere we reap.

    Rank is our rye and rotten in the straw,
      Because of foul weather by brook and by shore;
    Thus wakes in this world the worst woe men e'er saw,
      As well waste all away, as work thus evermore.

              Translated by M. H. S.


    On earth there is a little thing
    That reigns as does the richest king,
        In this and every land;
    Sir Penny is his name, we're told,
    He compels both young and old
        To bow unto his hand.

    Popes and kings and emperors,
    Bishops, abbots, too, and priors,
        Parson, priest, and knight,
    Barons, earls, and dukes, also,
    Gladly in his service go,
        Both by day and night.

    Sir Penny changes a man's mood
    And makes him, often, don his hood
        And rise and stand again.
    Men honor him with reverence
    And give utmost obedience
        Unto that little swain.

    In the king's court it is no gain
    Against Sir Penny to complain,
        So great is he in might;
    He is so witty and so strong
    That be a matter ever so wrong
        He will make it right.

    With Penny women may be won
    By those men they once did shun,
        As often may be seen;
    Long with him they will not chide,
    For he can help them trail aside,
        In good scarlet and green.

    He may buy both heaven and hell
    And everything there is to sell,
        Such grace he has on earth.
    He may loose and he may bind;
    The poor are ever put behind,
        When he comes to a place.

    When he begins to take control,
    He makes meek the cruel soul
        And weak who bold has been;
    All men's needs are quickly sped,
    Without pledge or bail to dread,
        Where he is go-between.

    The justices he makes so blind
    They are unable right to find
        Or even truth to see;
    To give judgment they are loath,
    If it should make Sir Penny wroth,
        For dear to them is he.

    Where strife was, Penny soon makes peace;
    From anger he will bring release,
        As long as men will spend;
    Of foes he makes friends most true,
    His counsel they will never rue
        Who have him for friend.

    That lord is set above us all
    And richly served within the hall
        At the festal board;
    The more he gives men plenteously,
    The more beloved always is he,
        And, by a host, adored.

    He makes many be forsworn
    Who in body and soul are made forlorn
        By following after him.
    Other god they will not have,
    Except that little and round knave,
        To end their sorrows grim.

    On him alone they set their hearts,
    And no man from his love departs,
        Neither for good nor ill.
    All that he will on earth have done
    Is granted soon by everyone
        According to his will.

    Penny is a good fellow;
    Men greet him in deed and word, also,
        Whenever he comes near;
    He is not welcomed as a guest,
    But always served with what is best,
        A soft seat and good cheer.

    Whoever falls in any need,
    With Penny's help will win good speed,
        Whatever may betide;
    He that is Penny's friend, withal,
    Shall have his will in steed and stall
        When others are set aside.

    Sir Penny gives men richest weeds,
    And many men may ride his steeds
        In this world so wide.
    In every game and every play
    The mastery is given aye
        To Penny for his pride.

    Sir Penny always wins the prize
    Wherever towers and castles rise
        By town or country way;
    Without either spear or shield
    He is the best in wood or field,
        Most stalwart in the fray.

    In every place this truth is seen,
    Sir Penny rules both great and mean;
        Most masterful is he;
    And all is as he does command;
    Against his will no man dare stand,
        Neither on land or sea.

    Sir Penny's counsel gives great aid
    To those who have his law obeyed,
        As the assizes show.
    He lengthens life and saves from death,
    But love him not o'er well, God saith,
        For covetousness is woe.

    If thou shouldst chance treasure to win,
    Delight thee not too much therein,
        Nor proud nor haughty be;
    But spend all as a Christian can,
    So that thou mayst love God and man
        In perfect charity.

    God grant us grace, with heart and will,
    The goods that he is giving, still
        Well and wisely to spend;
    And our lives here so to lead,
    That we may have His bliss for meed,
        Ever without an end.

              Translated by M. H. S.




    Orfeo was a king,
    In Inglond an heighe lording,
    A stalworth man and hardi bo,[65]
    Large and curteys, he was al so;
    His fader was comen of king Pluto,
    And his moder of king Juno,
    That sum time were as godes y hold,
    For aventours that thai dede and told.
    This king sojurned in Traciens,
    That was a cite of noble defens,
    For Winchester was cleped[66] tho
    Traciens, with outen no.
    The king hadde a quen of priis,
    That was y cleped dame Heurodis.
    The fairest levedi[67] for the nones[68]
    That might gon on bodi and bones,
    Ful of love and godenisse
    Ac no man may telle hir fairnise.
        Bifel so in the comessing of May,
    When miri and hot is the day,
    And oway beth winter schours,
    And everi feld is ful of flours,
    And blosme breme[69] on everi bough,
    Over al wexeth miri anough,
    This ich[70] quen dame Heurodis,
    Tok to maidens of priis,
    And went in an undren tide[71]
    To play bi an orchard side
    To se the floures sprede and spring,
    And to here the foules sing:
    Thai sett hem doun al thre,
    Under a fair ympe[72] tre,
    And wel sone this fair quene,
    Fel on slepe opon the grene.
    The maidens durst hir nought awake,
    Bot let hir ligge and rest take,
    So sche slepe til after none,
    That under tide was al y done;
    Ac as sone as sche gan awake,
    Sche crid and lothli bere gan make;
    Sche froted[73] hir honden and hir fet,
    And crached her visage, it blede wete,
    Hir riche robe hye al to rett,[74]
    And was reneyd[75] out of hir witt.
    The two maidens hir biside
    No durst with hir no leng abide,
    But ourn[76] to the palays ful right,
    And told bothe squier and knight,
    That her quen awede[77] wold,
    And bad hem go and hir at hold.
    Knightes urn[76], and levedis al so,
    Damisels sexti and mo,
    In the orchard to the quen hye come,
    And her up in her armes nome,[78]
    And brought hir to bed attelast,
    And held hir there fine fast;
    Ac ever sche held in o cri
    And wold up and owy.
    When Orfeo herd that tiding
    Never him nas wers for no thing;
    He come with knightes tene
    To chaumber right bifor the quene,
    And biheld and seyd with grete pite:
    O lef[79] liif, what is te,[80]
    That ever yete hast ben so stille,
    And now gredest[81] wonder schille[82];
    Thi bodi, that was so white y core,[83]
    With thine nailes is al to tore,
    Allas! thi rode,[84] that was so red,
    Is al wan as thou were ded;
    And also thine fingres smale,
    Beth al blodi and al pale;
    Allas! thi lovesum eyghen[85] to
    Loketh so man doth on his fo;
    A dame, Ich biseche merci,
    Let ben al this reweful cri,
    And tel me what the is, and hou,
    And what thing may the help now?
    Tho lay sche stille attelast,
    And gan to wepe swithe[86] fast,
    And seyd thus the king to:
    Allas! mi lord, sir Orfeo,
    Seththen[87] we first to gider were,
    Ones wroth never we nere,
    Bot ever Ich have y loved the
    As mi liif, and so thou me,
    Ac now we mot[88] delen ato,
    Do thi best, for y mot go.
    Allas! quath he, forlorn Ich am,
    Whider wiltow go and to wham?
    Whider thou gost Ichil with the,
    And whider Y go thou schalt with me.
    Nay, nay, sir, that nought nis,
    Ichil the telle al how it is:
    As Ich lay this under tide,
    And slepe under our orchard side,
    Ther come to me to fair knightes
    Wele y armed al to rightes,
    And bad me comen an heighing,[89]
    And speke with her lord the king;
    And Ich answerd at wordes bold,
    Y durst nought, no y nold.
    Thai priked oghain[90] as thai might drive,
    Tho com her king also blive,
    With an hundred knightes and mo,
    And damissels an hundred al so;
    Al on snowe white stedes,
    As white as milke were her wedes,
    Y no seighe never yete bifore
    So fair creatours y core!
    The king hadde a croun on hed,
    It nas of silver, no of gold red,
    Ac it was of a precious ston;
    As bright as the sonne it schon:
    And as son as he to me cam,
    Wold Ich, nold Ich, he me nam,
    And made me with him ride,
    Opon a palfray bi his side,
    And brought me to his pallays,
    Wele atird in ich ways;
    And schewed me castels and tours,
    Rivers, forestes, frith[91] with flours;
    And his riche stedes[92] ichon,
    And seththen me brought oghain hom,
    In to our owhen orchard,
    And said to me after ward:
    Loke dame, to morwe thatow be
    Right here under this ympe tre;
    And than thou schalt with ous go
    And live with ous ever mo,
    And yif thou makest ous y let,
    Where thou be, thou worst y fet[93]
    And to tore thine limes al,
    That nothing help the no schal,
    And thei thou best so to torn
    Yete thou worst with ous y born.
        When king Orfeo herd this cas,
    O we![94] quath he, allas! allas!
    Lever me were to lete[95] mi liif,
    Than thus to lese the quen mi wiif,
    He asked conseyl at ich man,
    Ac no man him help no can.
    A morwe the under tide is come
    And Orfeo hath his armes y nome,
    And wele ten hundred knightes with him,
    Ich y armed stout and grim;
    And with the quen wenten he,
    Right unto that ympe tre.
    Thai made scheltrom[96] in ich aside,
    And sayd thai wold ther abide,
    And dye ther everichon,
    Er the quen schuld fram hem gon:
    Ac yete amiddes hem ful right,
    The quen was oway y twight,[97]
    With fairi forth y nome,
    Men wist never wher sche was bicome.
    Tho was ther criing, wepe and wo,
    The king into his chamber is go,
    And oft swoned opon the ston
    And made swiche diol[98] and swiche mon,
    That neighe his liif was y spent;
    Ther was non amendement.
    He cleped to gider his barouns,
    Erls, lordes of renouns,
    And when thai al y comen were:
    Lordinges, he said, bifor you here
    Ich ordainy min heigh steward
    To wite[99] mi kingdom after ward,
    In mi stede ben he schal,
    To kepe mi londes over al,
    For now Ichave mi quen y lore,[100]
    The fairest levedi that ever was bore;
    Never eft y nil no woman se,
    Into wildernes Ichil te,[101]
    And live ther ever more,
    With wilde bestes in holtes[102] hore;
    And when ye under stond that y be spent,
    Make you than a parlement,
    And chese you a newe king:
    Now doth your best with al mi thing.
      Tho was ther wepeing in the halle,
    And grete cri among hem alle;
    Unnethe[103] might old or yong
    For wepeing speke a word with tong.
    Thai kneled adoun al y fere,[104]
    And praid him yif his wille were,
    That he no schuld nought from hem go.
    Do way! quath he, it schal be so:
    All his kingdom he forsoke,
    But a sclavin[105] on him he toke;
    He no hadde kirtel, no hode,
    Schert, no nother gode,
    Bot his harp he toke algate,[106]
    And dede him barfot out atte gate:
    No man most with him go.
    O way! what ther was wepe and wo,
    When he that hadde ben king with croun,
    Went so poverlich out of toun.
    Thurch wode, and over heth,
    Into the wildernes he geth,
    Nothing he fint that him is ays,[107]
    Bot ever he liveth in gret malais[108];
    He that hadde y werd the fowe[109] and griis,[110]
    And on bed the purper biis,[111]
    Now on hard hethe he lith,
    With leves and gresse he him writh[112]:
    He that hadde castels, and tours,
    River, forest, frith with flours;
    Now, thei it commenci to snewe and frese,
    This king mot make his bed in mese[113]:
    He that had y had knightes of priis.
    Bifor him kneland, and levedis,
    Now seth he no thing that him liketh,
    Bot wild wormes by him striketh:
    He that had y had plente
    Of mete and drink, of ich deynte,
    Now may he al day digge and wrote,[114]
    Er he finde his fille of rote;
    In somer he liveth bi wild frut,
    And berren, bot gode lite;
    In winter may he no thing finde,
    Bot rote, grases, and the rinde;
    Al his bodi was oway dwine
    For missays, and al to chine,[115]
    Lord! who may telle the sore
    This king sufferd ten yere and more:
    His here of his berd, blac and rowe,[116]
    To his girdel stede was growe;
    His harp, where on was al his gle,
    He hidde in an holwe tre;
    And, when the weder was clere and bright,
    He toke his harp to him wel right,
    And harped at his owhen wille,
    Into alle the wode the soun gan schille,
    That alle the wilde bestes that ther beth,
    For joie abouten him thai teth[117];
    And all the foules that ther were,
    Come and sete on ich a brere;
    To here his harping a fine,[118]
    So miche melody was ther in.
    And when he his harping lete wold,
    No best bi him abide nold.
        He might se besides
    Oft in hot under tides,
    The king o fairy, with his rout,
    Com to hunt him al about:
    With dim cri and bloweing,
    And houndes also with him berking;
    Ac no best thai no nome,
    No never he nist whider thai bi come.
    And other while he might him se
    As a gret ost bi him te,
    Wele atourned[119] ten hundred knightes,
    Ich y armed to his rightes;
    Of cuntenaunce stout and fers,
    With mani displaid baners;
    And ich his swerd y drawe hold:
    Ac never he nist whider thai wold.
    And other while he seighe other thing:
    Knightes and levedis com daunceing,
    In queynt atire gisely,
    Queyitt pas, and softly:
    Tabours and trimpes yede him bi,
    And al maner menstraci.
        And on a day he seighe him biside
    Sexti levdis on hors ride,
    Gentil and jolif, as brid on ris[120];
    Nought o man amonges hem ther nis;
    And ich a faucoun on hond bere,
    And riden on haukin bi o rivere,
    Of game thai founde wel gode haunt,
    Maulardes, hayroun, and cormeraunt;
    The foules of the water ariseth,
    The faucouns hem wele deviseth,
    Ich faucoun his pray slough:
    That seighe Orfeo, and lough.
    Par fay, quath he, ther is fair game!
    Thider Ichil bi Godes name,
    Ich was y won[121] swiche werk to se.
    He aros, and thider gan te;
    To a levedi he was y come,
    Biheld, and hath wele under nome,
    And seth, bi al thing, that it is
    His owhen quen dam Heurodis.
    Yern he biheld hir, and sche him eke,
    Ac noither to other a word no speke:
    For messais that sche on him seighe,
    That had ben so riche and so heighe,
    The teres fel out of her eighe;
    The other levedis this y seighe,
    And maked hir oway to ride,
    Sche most with him no lenger abide.
    Allas! quath he, now me is wo!
    Whi nil deth now me slo,
    Allas! wroche, that Y no might
    Dye now, after this sight!
    Allas! to long last mi liif
    When Y no dar nought with mi wiif,
    No hye to me, o word speke,
    Allas! whi nil min hert breke!
    Parfay, quath he, tide what bitide,
    Whider so this levedis ride,
    The selve way Ichil streche,
    Of liif, no deth, me no reche.
    His sclavin he dede on, all so spac,[122]
    And henge his harp upon his bac,
    And had wel gode will to gon;
    He no spard noither stub no ston.
    In at a roche the levedis rideth,
    And he after, and nought abideth;
    When he was in the roche y go,
    Wele thre mile, other mo,
    He com in to a fair cuntray,
    As bright so sonne on somers day,
    Smothe, and plain, and al grene;
    Hille, no dale nas ther non y sene;
    Amidde the lond a castel he sighe,
    Riche, and real,[123] and wonder heighe;
    Al the ut mast wal,
    Was cler and schine as cristal;
    And hundred tours ther were about,
    Degiselich[124] and bataild stout;
    The butras com out of the diche,
    Of rede gold y arched riche,
    The bonsour[125] was avowed[126] al,
    Of ich maner divers animal;
    With in ther wer wide wones,[127]
    Al of precious stones,
    The werst piler on to biholde,
    Was al of burnist gold;
    Al that lond was ever light,
    For when it schuld be therk[128] and night,
    The riche stones[129] light gonne,
    As bright as doth at none the sonne,
    No man may telle, no thenche in thought,
    The riche werk that ther was wrought,
    Bi al thing, him think that it is
    The proude court of paradis.
    In this castel the levedis alight,
    He wold in after, yif he might.
        Orfeo knokketh atte gate,
    The porter was redi ther ate,
    And asked, what he wold have y do.
    Parfay, quath he, Icham a minstrel lo,
    To solas thi lord with my gle,
    Yif his swete wille be.
    The porter undede the gate anon,
    And lete him in to the castel gon.
        Than he gan bihold about al,
    And seighe full liggeand[130] with in the wal,
    Of folk that were thider y brought,
    And thought dede and nare nought:
    Sum stode with outen hade[131];
    And sum on armes nade;[132]
    And sum thurch the bodi hadde wounde;
    And sum lay wode[133] y bounde;
    And sum armed on hors sete;
    And sum astrangled as thai ete;
    And sum were in water adreynt[134];
    And sum with fire al for schreynt[135];
    Wives ther lay on child bedde;
    Sum ded, and sum awedde[136];
    And wonder fele ther lay bisides,
    Right as thai slepe her under tides;
    Eche was thus in this warld y nome,
    With fairi thider y come.
    Ther he seighe his owhen wiif,
    Dame Heurodis his liif liif
    Slepe under an ympe tre;
    Bi her clothes he knewe that it was he.
        And when he hadde bihold this mervails alle,
    He went in to the kinges halle;
    Then seighe he ther a semly sight,
    A tabernacle blisseful and bright
    Ther in her maister king sete,
    And her quen fair and swete;
    Her crounes, her clothes, schine so bright,
    That unnethe bihold he hem might.
    When he hadde biholden al that thing,
    He kneled adoun bifor the king;
    O Lord, he seyd, yif it thi wille were,
    Mi menstraci thou schust y here.
    The king answerd, what man artow,
    That art hider y comen now?
    Ich, no non that is with me,
    No sent never after the.
    Seththen that ich here regni gan,
    Y no fond never so fole hardi man
    That hider to ous durst wende,
    Bot that Ichim walde of sende.
    Lord, quath he, trowe ful wel,
    Y nam bot a pover menstrel,
    And, sir, it is the maner of us,
    To seche mani a lordes hous,
    Thei we nought welcom no be,
    Yete we mot proferi forth our gle.
        Bifor the king he sat adoun
    And tok his harp so miri of soun,
    And tempreth his harp as he wel can,
    And blisseful notes he ther gan,
    That al that in the paleys were,
    Com to him for to here,
    And liggeth adoun to his fete,
    Hem thenketh his melody so swete.
    The king herkneth, and sitt ful stille,
    To here his gle he hath gode wille.
    Gode bourde[137] he hadde of his gle,
    The riche quen al so hadde he.
    When he hadde stint[138] his harping,
    Than seyd to him the king,
    Menstrel, me liketh wele thi gle,
    Now aske of me what it be,
    Largelich Ichil the pay,
    Now speke, and tow might asay.
    Sir, he seyd, Ich beseche the,
    Thatow woldest give me,
    That ich levedi bright on ble,[139]
    That slepeth under the ympe tre.
    Nay, quath the king, that nought nere,
    A sori couple of you it were,
    For thou art lene, rowe, and blac,
    And sche is lovesome with outen lac;
    A lothlich thing it were forthi,[140]
    To sen hir in thi compayni.
        O sir, he seyd, gentil king,
    Yete were it a wele fouler thing
    To here a lesing[141] of thy mouthe,
    So, sir, as ye seyd nouthe,[142]
    What Ich wold aski have Y schold;
    And nedes thou most thi word hold.
    The king seyd, seththen it is so,
    Take hir bi the hand, and go;
    Of hir Ichil thatow be blithe.
    He kneled adoun, and thonked him swithe.[143]
    His wiif he tok bi the hond
    And dede him swithe[144] out of that lond;
    And went him out of that thede,[145]
    Right as he came the way he yede.[146]
    So long he hath the way y nome,
    To Winchester he is y come,
    That was his owhen cite,
    Ac no man knewe that it was he,
    No forther than the tounes ende,
    For knoweleche no durst wende,
    Bot with a begger y bilt ful narwe,
    Ther he tok his herbarwe,[147]
    To him, and to his owhen wiif,
    As a minstrel of pover liif,
    And asked tidings of that lond,
    And who the kingdom held in hond.
    The pover begger, in his cote,[148]
    Told him everich a grot[149]
    How her quen was stole owy,
    Ten yer gon with fairy,
    And how her king en exile yede,
    Bot no man niste in wiche thede,
    And how the steward the lond gan hold,
    And other mani thinges him told.
        A morwe ogain none tide
    He maked his wiif ther abide,
    The beggers clothes he borwed anon,
    And heng his harp his rigg[150] opon,
    And went him in to that cite,
    That men might him bi hold and se.
    Erls, and barouns bold,
    Burjays, and levedis, him gun bi hold;
    Lo! thai seyd, swiche a man,
    Hou long the here hongeth him opan!
    Lo! hou his berd hongeth to his kne,
    He is y clongen[151] al so a tre.
    And as he yede in the strete,
    With his steward he gan mete,
    And loude he sett on him a crie,
    Sir steward, he seyd, merci,
    Icham an harpour of hethenisse,
    Helpe me now in this distresse!
    The steward seyd, com with me, come,
    Of that Ichave thou schalt have some;
    Everich gode harpour is welcom me to,
    For mi lordes love, sir Orfeo.
        In the castel the steward sat atte mete,
    And mani lording was bi him sete;
    There were trompour and tabourers,
    Harpours fele, and crouders,[152]
    Miche melody thai maked alle,
    And Orfeo sat stille in the halle,
    And herkneth when thai ben al stille,
    He toke his harp and tempred schille,
    The blifulest notes he herped there,
    That ever ani man y herd with ere,
    Ich man liked wel his gle.
    The steward biheld and gan y se,
    And knewe the harp als blive;
    Menstrel, he seyd, so mot thou thrive,
    Where hadestow this harp, and hou?
    Ypray that thou me telle now.
        Lord, quath he, in uncouthe thede,
    Thurch a wildernes as Y yede;
    Ther Y founde in a dale,
    With lyouns a man to torn smale,
    And wolves him frete[153] with teth so scharp;
    Bi him Y found this ich harp,
    Wele ten yere it is y go.
    O! quath the steward, now me is wo!
    That was mi lord, sir Orfeo!
    Allas! wreche what schall Y do,
    That have swiche a lord y lore,[154]
    A way, that Ich was y bore,
    That him was so hard grace y yarked,[155]
    And so vile deth y marked!
    Adoun he fel aswon to grounde,
    His barouns him tok up in that stounde,[156]
    And telleth him hou it geth,
    It is no bot[157] of mannes deth.
    King Orfeo knewe wel bi than,
    His steward was a trewe man,
    And loved him as he aught to do,
    And stont up, and seyt thus lo,
    Steward, herkne now this thing,
    Yif Ich were Orfeo the king,
    And hadde y suffred ful yore,
    In wildernisse miche sore;
    And hadde y won mi quen owy,
    Out of the lond of fairy;
    And hadde y brought the levedi hende,[158]
    Right here to the tounes ende,
    And with a begger her in[159] y nome,
    And were mi self hider y come,
    Poverlich to the thus stille,
    For to asay thi gode wille;
    And Ich founde the thus trewe,
    Thou no schust it never rewe,
    Sikerlich for love, or ay,[160]
    Thou schust be king after mi day,
    And yif thou of my deth hadest ben blithe,
    Thou schust have voided al so swithe.
        Tho al tho that ther in sete,
    That it was king Orfeo under gete,[161]
    And the steward him wele knewe,
    Over and over the bord[162] he threwe,
    And fel adoun to his fet;
    So dede everich lord that ther sete,
    And al thai sayd at o criing,
    Ye beth our lord, sir, and our king.
    Glad thai were of his live,
    To chaumber thai ladde him als bilive,[163]
    And bathed him and schaved his berd,
    And tired him as a king apert[164];
    And seththen with gret processioun,
    Thai brought the quen in to the toun,
    With al maner menstraci;
    Lord, ther was grete melody!
    For joie thai wepe with her eighe;
    That hem so sounde y comen seighe.
    Now king Orfeo newe coround is,
    And his quen dame Heurodis;
    And lived long afterward;
    And seththen was king the steward.
    Harpours in Bretaine after than
    Herd hou this mervaile bigan,
    And made her of a lay of gode likeing,
    And nempned[165] it after the king.
    That lay Orfeo is y hote[166];
    Gode is the lay, swete is the note.
    Thus com sir Orfeo out of his care;
    God graunt ous alle wele to fare! Amen.


Frontispiece. "The Last Judgment" is an early work by Fra Angelico
(1387-1455), who was a member of the Dominican order, and who spent his
monastic leisure in painting visionary scenes. The picture represents
Christ on the judgment seat, encircled by cherubim and seraphim, with
saints and apostles seated on either side. Below are open graves. On
His left devils are driving sinners into hideous torments; on His
right angels are conducting the blessed across the flowery meadows of
the earthly paradise toward the gleaming gates of the celestial city.
The detail given here is sometimes called "The Dance of the Angels."
The robes of the angelic beings who go singing and caroling are in
the colors characteristic of Fra Angelico,—azure, green, and rose,
irradiated by countless golden stars.


Of Man's Body. Of Man's Soul

This introductory bit of mediæval lore is translated from "Cursor
Mundi" (Over-runner of the World), a long poem, probably written in the
early fourteenth century. The author says plainly at the beginning of
his work that he is vying with romances and other secular tales which
draw the thoughts of men away from spiritual matters. The poem, written
in 24,000 verses in the short couplet, tells the history of the seven
ages of the world, from the Creation to Doomsday, covering very much
the same matter as that presented in the miracle plays. The "Cursor
Mundi" has been edited by R. Morris for the Early English Text Society.
Lines 511-584 are here translated.


The Amorous Contention of Phillis and Flora

"De Phillide et Flora," a Latin poem of the twelfth century, perhaps,
was translated about 1595 by George Chapman. In 1598 a certain "R.
S." republished this translation with a few minor changes, but the
work is essentially Chapman's. The present reprint follows the text
in Thomas Wright's "Latin Poems commonly attributed to Walter Mapes."
Camden Society, Vol. XVI. London, 1841. The translation reproduces
the stanza and rime form of the original. Although the Elizabethan
language may present some difficulties, they are not very serious to
any one who will read slowly enough to enjoy "the proud full sail of
his great verse" who may have been the rival of Shakespeare, and who
was certainly one of the inspirers of John Keats.

The poem itself is of significance because, as forerunner of poems of
the order of "The Romance of the Rose," it illustrates significant
mediæval traits. The attitude towards nature, classicism, love, war,
and learning is of great interest, and so, too, is the position of
women in that sophisticated world. The disputation gives a pretty
picture of the seriousness of feminine thought. The account of the
court of the god of love and the power ascribed to him are a good
introduction to the conventions of love poetry.

Readers of Theocritus will recall how his shepherds contend in song
over the charms of their beloved maidens, in Idyll V and elsewhere.
(See Lang's translation, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1889.) A
study of the evolution of the debate, or disputation, will prove a good
introduction to the world of late classical and of mediæval literature.
There are many examples of debate, such as those between "The Heart and
the Eye," "The Body and the Soul," "The Water and the Wine," "The Owl
and the Nightingale," "The Thrush and the Nightingale," "The Debate of
the Carpenter's Tools," "The Dispute between Mary and the Cross," and
many others. Birds, flowers, animals, inanimate objects, human beings,
and even virtuous abstractions were turned into mediæval disputants.

For information regarding debates, and for bibliographies of edited
debates, see

 MERRILL, E. The Dialogue in English Literature. Henry Holt and
 Company, New York, 1911.

 WELLS, J. E., Editor. The Owl and the Nightingale, p. liii. D. C.
 Heath & Co., Boston, 1907.

 SCHOFIELD, W. H. English Literature from the Norman Conquest to
 Chaucer, p. 485. The Macmillan Company, New York, 1906.

The Pleading of the Rose and of the Violet

Jean Froissart (1338-1410) was a distinguished French author who is
best known for the famous "Chronicles of England, France, and Spain,"
which picture with extraordinary vividness scenes which Froissart
actually witnessed.

In 1392, probably, Froissart wrote his "Plaidorie de la Rose et de
la Violette," which is here translated from his "Poésies," edited in
three volumes, with an excellent introduction, by A. Scheler, Brussels,
1872. The value of his poetical works lies in their revelation of the
literary taste of the court and of the fashionable world of the day,
for he employed the artificial sentiment and the conventional forms
of dream and allegory very pleasantly. The Plaidorie is not a famous
poem, but it is chosen because it serves to illustrate a combination
of various important traits. It is one of the many mediæval poems in
which the flower _motif_ is preëminent. Here Froissart introduces
rather charming personifications, especially significant in the case
of the fleur-de-lys, the national flower of France. In spite of
the trivial and sentimental attitude towards nature there are many
passages of genuine feeling. The poem should be compared with Chaucer's
"Prologue to the Legend of Good Women," where the cult of the daisy is
represented. Valuable aids to this study will be found in the following

 LOWES, J. L. The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women as related to
 the French Marguerite Poems. _Publications of the Modern Language
 Association_, XIX, 593-683.

 MARSH, G. P. The Sources of the Flower and the Leaf. _Modern
 Philology_, IV, 121-167, 281-327.

Furthermore, the jesting mockery of legal procedure should be noted.
Chaucer's "Fortune" employs legal phraseology, and although Froissart's
poem may never have been known to Chaucer, the use of the terms and the
associations of law was frequent among poets. Readers of Shakespeare's
"Sonnets" will recall his use of legal imagery, but of course he was
uninfluenced by this poem.


The Purgatory of Saint Patrick

This translation is a free rendering of a poem found in the famous
Auchinleck manuscript, a collection of popular poetry copied in the
fourteenth century. A description of this manuscript will be found
in Scott's edition of "Sir Tristem." The poem is in the six-line,
tail-rime stanza which was much used in romances of the day. There are
other versions of this legend in Latin, in French, and in English.
Because of its detail, this version, of the late thirteenth century,
edited by E. Koelbing in _Englische Studien_, I, 98, has been chosen,
although in some respects it is inferior in style to the other English
versions. Especially interesting is the picture of the earthly
paradise, which is nowhere else described so fully as it is here by
catalogues and other means. As an introduction to mediæval religious
beliefs the poem is almost unequaled. Pilgrimages, even to this day,
are made, by the faithful, to Lough Derg, in Ireland, where Saint
Patrick's Purgatory is still continuing its saving grace.

Students of comparative literature recognize in the story a body
of tradition reaching back into remote times and forward to the
Renaissance, finding its most perfect expression in Dante's "Divine
Comedy" (1321). Mediæval descriptions of hell and heaven were made more
vivid by adopting the literary form known as the _vision_. The most
familiar sort of vision is that which describes things seen in a dream,
after the author has fallen asleep. "The Pilgrim's Progress" is an
example of this type. Another sort of vision is that which relates what
has been perceived by some one in a state of mystical exaltation, as in
the Apocalypse of Saint John. The most realistic form of vision is that
of "Saint Patrick's Purgatory," where the experiences are described
as if actually undergone, and yet they so transcend human probability
that the reader recognizes the apocalyptic element. The term "vision"
is usually applied to poems describing mysteries of religious or moral
truth, and "dream" is applied to secular works such as "The Romance
of the Rose," and many other popular poems. Examples of visions from
various epochs should be read in order to trace the history. Easily
accessible texts in translation are

 ST. JOHN. Revelation. (King James Version.)

 HOMER. Odyssey, Book XI (translated by G. H. Palmer). Houghton Mifflin
 Company, Boston, 1891.

 VIRGIL. Æneid, Book VI (translated by J. Conington). The Macmillan
 Company, New York, 1910.

 CICERO. Scipio's Dream (translated by C. R. Edmonds in the Bohn
 Library Cicero). The Macmillan Company, New York.

 BEDE. The Vision of Dryhthelm (in Cook and Tinker's "Old English
 Prose," p. 58). Ginn and Company, Boston, 1908.

 DANTE. The Divine Comedy (translated by C. E. Norton). Houghton
 Mifflin Company, Boston, 1893.

 The Pearl (translated by S. Jewett). Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New
 York, 1908.

For critical studies of the vision and for exhaustive bibliographies of
the subject, see

 Apocalypse. Encyclopædia Britannica.

 WRIGHT, T. Saint Patrick's Purgatory. London, 1844.

 KRAPP, G. P. The Legend of Saint Patrick's Purgatory. John Murphy
 Company, Baltimore, 1900.

 BECKER, E. Mediæval Visions of Heaven and Hell. John Murphy Company,
 Baltimore, 1899.

 LANGLOIS, E. Origines et sources du Roman de la Rose, chap. v. Paris,

For information regarding the dream _motif_ in mediæval poems, see

 OWEN, D. Piers Plowman, A Comparison with some Earlier and
 Contemporary French Allegories, pp. 134-167. Hodder and Stoughton,
 London, 1912.

 NEILSON, W. A. The Origins and Sources of the Court of Love. (See
 "Dream-setting" in the index.) Ginn and Company, Boston, 1899.

Accounts of purgatory and of the terrestrial paradise will be found in
"The Catholic Encyclopaedia." Further details regarding the earthly
paradise are in Genesis ii, 8-17; Ezekiel xxviii, 13; "Phœnix," in Cook
and Tinker's "Old English Poetry"; "Mandeville's Travels," XXXIII, and
in Milton's "Paradise Lost," IV. Two critical studies of importance are

 GOULD, S. B. Curious Myths of the Middle Ages. London, 1874.

 COLI, E. Il Paradiso Terrestre. Florence, 1897


The Life of Saint Brandon

Brandon, Brendon, or Brandan, was an Irish Odysseus whose journeyings
in search of the Land of Behest have a lasting fascination for all
lovers of romantic adventure. The atmosphere of sanctity which made
this legend approved reading for the mediæval Christian gives a quaint
irony to the accounts of fairies, demons, enchanted birds, and other
marvels which betray a frankly superstitious spirit. Travelers' records
have a distinct place in literature, as the names Ohthere, Marco Polo,
Mandeville, Hakluyt, Robinson Crusoe, Stevenson, Hearn and many others
prove, and when the voyage is undertaken because of mingled love of
excitement, passion for the sea, zeal for discovery, and deep longing
to find the ideal land, it has potent appeal to those who stay at home.
In almost every language there are tales which picture an earthly
paradise. The Fortunate Isles, the Garden of the Hesperides, Calypso's
Isle, Avalon, Hy Brasail, Tir-na'n-Og, are names given in Greek and in
Celtic story to the abode of those who have won release from earthly
cares and hardship, and have entered the realm of perfect terrestrial
peace and beauty.

The translation is William Caxton's version of the life of Brandon
based upon some source not yet satisfactorily determined. Caxton's
rather rambling but most charming rendering was included in "The Golden
Legend," mentioned below.

An exhaustive study of the Irish story upon which this legend is based,
and much other material relating to this theme, will be found in Meyer
and Nutt's "The Voyage of Bran. Edited and translated by K. Meyer. With
an Essay upon the Irish Version of the Happy Other-world and the Celtic
Doctrine of Rebirth, by A. Nutt." 2 vols., David Nutt, London, 1895.
Interesting also in connection with Brandon is the story of Sindbad, in
"The Arabian Nights."

The Life of Saint Margaret

Jacobus de Voragine (1230-1298), Archbishop of Genoa, was the author
of "Historia Lombardica seu Legenda Sanctorum," popularly known as
"Legenda Aurea." When William Caxton set up his printing press and
began to multiply copies of the English classics, he included among
his publications an English rendering of the Latin text, "The Golden
Legend," (1483), which he based upon a French translation. The present
version is from Caxton's text, as printed in the Temple Classics.

The great popularity of lives of the saints is due partly to that
trait, inherent in human nature, of genuine devotion to any one of
proved courage, especially when that courage is of the spirit, an
invincible religious faith and fortitude. Weak and unstable Christians
found inspiration in these saintly lives, and by continued meditation
learned many lessons of deep meaning. But, in addition to the ethical
interest, there was sympathy for the human experiences and the strange
and fearful adventures of these elect of the Lord. As the metrical
romances ministered to popular delight in knightly deeds, so, too,
these legends of the saints satisfied the world-old love of struggle
and of victory. Saint Margaret, Saint Katherine, Saint Juliana, were
the women saints whose lives were best known to the Middle Ages, but
the many legendaries of the day gave ample record of scores of other

For versions of the life of Saint Margaret, see Early English Text
Society, No. 13. "The Golden Legend" in seven volumes (Temple Classics,
E. P. Dutton and Company, New York) contains the fullest collection
of lives of the saints. Middle English collections have been edited by
Carl Horstmann. Fox's "Book of Martyrs" should be remembered, also.


The superstitions of the Middle Ages reveal themselves very fully
in the various accounts of miracles performed by God, Christ, the
Virgin, the saints, or by the relics treasured in churches and
religious houses. The study of mediæval religious life must include
an examination of some of these fervent and naïve records of the
supernatural power of holy objects and holy folk. The intense reverence
accorded to sanctified things created, among mediæval Christians, a
passionate disregard for the dictates of human reason. At first this
blind faith and total abasement before sacred relics was a triumph
of the spirit, but before long it became a triumph of the body, for
physical well-being and material prosperity were sought rather than
spiritual enlightenment. In Chaucer's Pardoner's "Prologue" and in
Erasmus's account of his journeys to Walsingham and to Canterbury one
finds pictured the credulous and wholly unlovely side of the subject.
When idealism declines and becomes sheer bigotry, without the charm of
imaginative power, it must have its Wiclif and its Luther.

A Miracle of God's Body

"A Miracle of God's Body" is translated from Robert Mannyng of Brunne's
"Handlyng Synne" (Manual of Sins). Early English Text Society, No. 123,
p. 333. See also p. 172 under Homily.

A Miracle of the Virgin

"A Miracle of the Virgin" is from a group of eight miracles, printed
in Horstmann's edition of "The Minor Poems of the Vernon Manuscript."
Early English Text Society, Part I, No. 98, pp. 138-166.

Other legends connected with the Virgin are to be found in the
following volumes:

 UNDERHILL, E. The Miracles of Our Lady. E. P. Dutton & Company, New
 York, 1906.

 VINCENT, E. The Madonna of Legend and History. T. Whittaker, New York,

 KEMP WELCH, A., Translator. The Miracles of Our Lady, by Gautier de
 Coincy. Duffield & Company, New York, 1911.

The Translation of Saint Thomas of Canterbury

"The Translation of Saint Thomas of Canterbury" comes from Caxton's
"Golden Legend," which should be consulted for a long account of the
life of Thomas. Dean Stanley's "Memorials of Canterbury," now published
in Everyman's Library, is an indispensable volume for the student.


The popularity of allegory, in the Middle Ages, as a means of conveying
religious and moral truth, led to the production of many very complex
narratives and sermons. An acquaintance with "Piers Plowman" will
reveal the character of these works where the reader is soon lost in
the labyrinth of abstract names. "The Romance of the Rose," translated
by F. S. Ellis (Temple Classics, 3 vols., E. P. Dutton & Company, New
York), is the most important example of secular allegory in the Middle
Ages. "The Order of Chivalry," a poem that defines the symbolism of
the knightly habit, will be found in Miss Butler's "Tales from the Old
French," Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1910, and also (as "Sir Hugh
of Tabarie") in E. Mason's "Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Mediæval
Romances" (Everyman's Library, E. P. Dutton & Company, New York, 1909).

For discussion of the origin and development of mediæval allegory, the
reader should consult

 NEILSON, W. A. Origins and Sources of the Court of Love. See
 "Allegory" in the index. Ginn and Company, Boston, 1899.

 LANGLOIS, E. Origines et sources du Roman de la Rose, chap. iv. Paris,

 OWEN, D. Piers Plowman, A Comparison with French Allegories. Hodder
 and Stoughton, London, 1912.

"The Castle of Love"

This extract from a long and very complex poem illustrates significant
aspects of mediæval religious allegory. The poem itself was written in
French by Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (who died in 1253),
and was translated into English several times because of its great
popularity. Beginning with an account of the Creation and of the Fall
of Man, the poet went on to tell a parable of a Being who had one Son,
His equal in all ways, four daughters (named Mercy, Truth, Right, and
Peace), and a thrall (named Adam), who was in prison. Mercy and Peace
pleaded for the thrall's releases, but Truth and Right objected, so the
thrall was punished. Mercy and Peace fled from the land, and the world
(except Noah and his family) was drowned. Peace once more appealed for
the ransom of the thrall, and the King's Son, hearing the dispute of
the four sisters, said He would put on the garments of the thrall and
force Peace and Right to be reconciled, and the world would be saved.
So Christ entered into the Castle of Love, and was born on earth for
the redemption of mankind. An account of the life and passion and
resurrection of Christ is given, and the poem concludes with a prayer
that we may all be led by Him to everlasting bliss.

The best edition of the English version is

 HORSTMANN, C. "The Minor Poems of the Vernon Manuscript," Part I,
 Early English Text Society, No. 98. This edition contains a version
 made in the latter part of the thirteenth century, and also a version
 by a monk of Sawley, in Yorkshire. The present extract is taken from
 the Sawley monk's translation (ll. 361-452) because that version gives
 the allegory in more coherent and careful detail than do the other
 versions, which fail to explain some of the symbolism.


Lion, Eagle, Whale, Siren

From earliest times animals have been employed as symbolic figures by
teachers and preachers, and the interest of the present day in animal
life and lore is evidence of the never-failing pleasure humanity finds
in beast books. Æsop's "Fables," "The Little Flowers of Saint Francis,"
"Reynard the Fox," and "The Jungle Stories" illustrate various sides
of the literature about the lesser folk. The mediæval bestiary was a
book which sought to enunciate religious instruction by an appeal to
the curiosity of credulous people. The didactic interest far exceeded
the scientific in these allegories which, to us, are most diverting
matter. The source of the bestiary is to be found in the Greek
"Physiologus" (second century A.D.), which was translated into Latin by
Theobaldus in the late Middle Ages, and then into other languages. In
Old English literature "The Whale" and "The Panther" and a fragment of
"The Partridge" are all that remain of the version in that language.
The Middle English bestiary of the thirteenth century contains
descriptions, followed by explication, of the lion, the eagle, the
adder, the ant, the hart, the fox, the spider, the whale, the siren,
the elephant, the turtle dove, the panther, and the culver. There is a
French bestiary written in England by Philippe de Thaün, about 1120,
which contains a portion of a lapidary also. A translation is in T.
Wright's "Popular Treatises on Science written during the Middle Ages."
London, 1841.

The text of the Middle English bestiary may be found in

 MORRIS, R. An Old English Miscellany. Early English Text Society, No.

 MAETZNER, E. Altenglische Sprachproben, I, 55. Berlin, 1867.

 WRIGHT, T., and HALLIWELL, J. O. Reliquiae Antiquae, I, 208. London,

Suggestive studies on the subject are

 KITTREDGE, G. L. Beast Fables, in Johnson's Universal Cyclopædia.

 LAND, J. P. N. Physiologos, in Encyclopædia Britannica.

 LAUCHERT, F. Geschichte des Physiologus. Strassburg, 1889.

In the popular mediæval epic, "Reynard the Fox," animals, very
realistically portrayed, yet with satirical symbolism, are the actors
in a story full of interest to the modern reader. This is accessible in
the following English versions:

 CAXTON, W. Reynard the Fox. Percy Society, Vol. XII. London.

 MORLEY, H. Early English Prose Romances. E. P. Dutton and Company, New
 York, 1912.

 JACOBS, J. The Most Delectable History of Reynard the Fox. Macmillan
 and Company, London, 1895.


Selections from Lapidaries

Marbodus, Bishop of Rennes in the twelfth century, was the author of
the lapidary which was best known during the Middle Ages. This book,
called "De Gemmis," was written in Latin verse, and gives the strange
superstitions about the virtues and efficacies of sixty stones. Many of
these stones are now unknown to us. There was so much interest in this
lapidary that it was frequently translated into French, both in verse
form and in prose, and was popular in England as well as in France. The
traditions about stones developed two sorts of treatise: one in which
the purely pagan beliefs are represented, as they were handed down by
Aristotle, Pliny, Marbodus, and others; and a second in which the pagan
superstitions are inwrought with Christian teachings and associated
with Scriptural passages. In translating Marbodus, a Christian clerk
would add and alter material in such a way as to impress religious
symbolisms upon his readers, through the popular interest in all the
lore of stones.

Information regarding the lapidaries, as well as editions of various
French and other lapidaries, will be found in the following books:

 PANNIER, L. Les Lapidaires français du moyen-âge des XII^e, XIII^e, et
 XIV^e siècles. Paris, 1882.

 MEYER, P. Les Plus Anciens Lapidaires français. _Romania_ (Jan.,
 Avril, Oct.). Paris, 1909.

 KING, C. W. Antique Gems. Contains a translation of the work of
 Marbodus. London, 1860.

 STREETER, E. W. Precious Stones and Gems, their History, Sources, and
 Characteristics. Illustrated in color. London, 1898.

 WRIGHT, T. Popular Treatises on Science written during the Middle
 Ages. London, 1841.

The accounts of diamond, sapphire, amethyst, geratite, chelidonius,
coral, heliotrope, pearl, and pantheros are translated from a French
prose version of the Latin of Marbodus. The French translation was
made, perhaps, in England during the twelfth century. The text will
be found in Meyer, pp. 271-285. The French prose lapidary has been
chosen rather than that in verse form, because it has fewer tags and
circumlocutions, and can be more faithfully rendered into English.

The diamond, or adamant, was a favorite stone. "The Travels of Sir John
Mandeville," pp. 105-108, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1905, has an
interesting account of this.

The pearl has been the subject of much discussion. The present
translation omits several lines in the French version which do not
appear in Marbodus and which seem to be due to confusion with another
stone. Consult Kunz and Stevenson's "The Book of the Pearl," The
Century Company, New York, 1908, and pp. 599-610 of Schofield's article
"Symbolism, Allegory, and Autobiography in The Pearl." _Publications of
the Modern Language Association_, Vol. XVII.

The extract describing the carbuncle is from Pannier, p. 295, where
a prose fragment of a Christian lapidary is given. The carbuncle was
frequently mentioned in mediæval romances, and was supposed to give
success in battle, and also in lawsuits (see Meyer, p. 67).

The account of the symbolism of the twelve stones comes from Philippe
de Thaün's "Bestiaire," verses 2977-3004. The Oxford Bible gives
classified lists of stones mentioned in the Scriptures.


Concerning Miracle Plays, Games, and Minstrelsy

Homilies in prose and in verse were a common means of instruction. They
were usually more popular than mere sermons and sought to hold the
attention by the use of copious illustration. The following extract is
from "Handlyng Synne" (Manual of Sins), translated in 1303 by Robert
Mannyng of Brunne, from a French original, and edited by Dr. Furnivall,
Early English Text Society, No. 119. "Handlyng Synne," a collection
of homilies, denounces the seven deadly sins, citing many concrete
instances of fact and of fable in order to enforce the moral lessons.
The translation below interprets lines 4637-4774 (pp. 155-159), where
the sin of sloth is under discussion.

For information about minstrelsy the student should consult

 CHAMBERS, E. K. The Mediæval Stage, Vol. I, bk. i. Oxford University
 Press, 1903.

 GALPIN, F. W. Old English Instruments of Music. A. C. McClurg & Co.,
 Chicago, 1911.

 DUNCAN, E. The Story of Minstrelsy. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York,

 CUTTS, E. Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages. Vertue and
 Company, London, 1886.


The most popular satire in the Middle Ages is found in the fabliaux,
short tales which picture, with great zest, racy incidents in the
lives of common people whose hidden sins or hypocrisies are suddenly
exposed. The satire in these stories is exceedingly broad and attacks,
by preference, women and the clergy, painting with vivid realism their
immorality and intense selfishness. Readers will find information
regarding these in "The English Fabliau," by H. S. Canby, _Publications
of the Modern Language Association_, XXI, 200-214. Formal satire, which
points out abuses and vices by means of exposition, is illustrated in
the poems following. Satire against women is most agreeably found in
"The Romance of the Rose," chaps. xlvi-lii (translated by F. S. Ellis,
Temple Classics). In _Romania_, XV, 315, 339; XVI, 389; XXXVI, 1, will
be found interesting matter relating to satires on women, in France.

The Song of the University of Paris

This is freely translated from the French poem of Rutebeuf, written
in octosyllabic couplets, about the middle of the thirteenth century.
Rutebeuf was a famous minstrel whose vivid wit gave him a distinguished
place among mediæval writers. His works are full of autobiographical
details; he pictured his unhappy domestic life, his poverty, all his
failings, and his virtues with an engaging frankness. In allegory he
was a master of the mannerisms of his day. In satire he was original
and clever. The monastic orders aroused his fiercest resentment, and he
made sharp epigrams at their expense, accusing them of committing the
seven deadly sins and more. The dry incisiveness of his ridicule may
have impressed Chaucer and also the author of "Piers Plowman," although
we have no proof of this. A very good study of Rutebeuf has been
published by L. Cledat, Paris, 1891. The description of the mediæval
student gives a true picture of the day, but Chaucer's description of
the Clerk of Oxford should be read as complement. For details regarding
student life of the Middle Ages, consult

 RASHDALL, H. The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, 3 vols.
 London, 1895.

 HEWETT, W. T. University Life in the Middle Ages. _Harper's Magazine_,

 SYMONDS, J. A. Wine, Women and Song (translations of many student
 songs of the Middle Ages). Chatto and Windus, London, 1907.

The Land of Cockaygne

The meaning of _Cockaygne_ is usually understood to be "cookery." This
satire upon the mediæval monks was probably derived from a French
original. It illustrates the contemptuous tolerance of that day for
the greed, the gluttony, the slothfulness, and the immorality of
the inmates of the monastery. The satire directed against literary
conventions of the day is particularly amusing, if we notice how the
various catalogues of animals, birds, spices, flowers, jewels, and food
parody similar catalogues in the romances and in the poems describing
paradise. The poem was written, in the short couplet, about the middle
of the thirteenth century. It is printed in E. Maetzner's "Altenglische
Sprachproben," I, 148. Berlin, 1867. Wright's "St. Patrick's
Purgatory," London, 1844, contains an interesting chapter on this and
similar burlesques.

The Complaint of the Husbandman

This "complaint," or "song," was written during the thirteenth century
when the persecutions of the poor farmers by lords and their officers
were most extreme. The poem explains very fully the various abuses
which finally so incensed the poor that they rose in revolt and won
certain rights from their oppressors. The Middle English text is found
in K. Boeddeker's "Altenglische Dichtungen," p. 102, Berlin, 1878, and
in T. Wright's "Political Songs," Camden Society, Vol. VI, p. 149.

The meter and rime of the original have been kept, in this translation,
even at the risk of a few very slight changes in the order or in the
phrasing of the original, because the versification is so illustrative
of the transition from the old alliterative line to the elaborate
stanza forms of the French period.

Sir Penny

This satire was evidently a popular one in the Middle Ages; it is
found in various forms in Latin, in French, and in English. The
following translation is made from a version, probably of about 1350,
printed in Thomas Wright's "Latin Poems attributed to Walter Mapes,"
Camden Society, Vol. XVI, pp. 359-361. The poem is written in the
six-line, tail-rime stanza of "Sir Thopas," and the translation seeks
to preserve the cadences, movement, and structure of the original. It
is interesting in connection with "Piers Plowman" and "The Pardoner's
Tale," for it shows the great superiority of those satires, in
imaginative appeal. The generalizations here are faithful, but they
lack point and effectiveness because they do not drive home specific
instances about individuals. We have a personal interest in Lady Meed
and in the Pardoner, but we care little about classes and types.


Sir Orfeo

This Middle English version of a French lay seems to offer so few
difficulties that it is given in its original form, as it appears in
the Auchinleck manuscript. The text is copied from that edited by Laing
in "Select Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry of Scotland," reprinted in
Edinburgh, 1884. A critical edition of the poem was published by O.
Zielke, Breslau, 1880. A very charming free translation in stanza form
has been made by E. E. Hunt, Cambridge, 1909.

"Sir Orfeo" is the mediæval interpretation of the story of Orpheus
and Eurydice (Ovid's "Metamorphoses," bk. x, ll. 1-77), which was
told in French, and then translated by some nameless but immortal
English poet. The beauty of this Middle English version is undeniable.
Despite its brevity and its occasionally laconic phrases, the poem
shows real pathos in the account of the passionate grief of Orfeo, and
his desolate wanderings in search of his lady. The concrete vividness
of color and fragrance in nature, the dim stateliness of the retinue
of the king of fairyland, the magic beauty of his strange abode, are
described with true poetic sensitiveness. In choice of detail, in
management of incident, in "discovery," and in conclusion the narrative
is singularly well managed.

As a mediæval rendering of a classical tale, the poem has many charms,
because it so naïvely and so completely changes the setting and
insists upon mediæval towers and dress and customs. Pluto's dark realm
is transformed into a fairy kingdom, Thrace has become Winchester,
and the wandering Greek is a Breton harper knocking at the door of a
Gothic castle. As a version of one of the most beautiful of the world's
stories, this lay has true imaginative distinction; it pictures the
loyalty of love and love's power over time and fairy spells, but it
willfully changes the outcome of the old story to suit the sentiment of
high romance in an age when every tale must have a happy ending.

Other lays, or brief tales, are described in W. H. Schofield's "English
Literature from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer," p. 179. The Macmillan
Company, New York, 1906. "Launfal," a lay of fairyland, is one of the
most beautiful. The lays of Marie de France are accessible in the
following translations:

 WESTON, J. Four Lais of Marie de France (including "Launfal"). Charles
 Scribner's Sons, New York, 1901.

 RICKERT, E. Seven Lais of Marie de France. Charles Scribner's Sons,
 New York, 1901.

Fairy lore is discussed by many students. The volumes named below will
be found serviceable to the student of English literature:

 PATON, L. A. Studies in the Fairy Mythology of Arthurian Romance. Ginn
 and Company, Boston, 1903.

 NUTT, A. The Fairy Mythology of Shakespeare. David Nutt, London, 1900.

 HAZLITT, W. C. Fairy Tales, Lays, and Romances Illustrating
 Shakespeare. London, 1875.

 SIDGWICK, F. The Sources and Analogues of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
 Duffield & Company, New York, 1908.

In translating the poem the student should pronounce all the unknown
words aloud and he will speedily recognize resemblances to modern
words. _Y_ is the pronoun "I," but sometimes it is part of the
past participle,—_y-hold_ = "held." _Ich_ is "I," and also "each."
Frequently a pronoun and a verb are combined, as _ichil_ = "I will";
_wiltow_ = "wilt thou"; sometimes the negative particle is combined
with a verb, as in _nis_ = "is not"; _nil_ = "will not." _Owhen_
= "own"; _yif_ = "if." It is assumed that readers will recognize
the words used in the ballads or in Spenser's works. If there are
words which are not recognized they can be found in the New English
Dictionary, or in the New International Dictionary, or in Bradley and
Stratmann's Middle English Dictionary.


[1] Temple Classics, 3 vols. Dutton, New York, 1900.

[2] B. Smythe, Trobador Poets. (Translations.) Duffield, New York, 1911.

[3] See Notes.

[4] See Notes.

[5] varied.

[6] equal.

[7] disagreement.

[8] love.

[9] pleasure.

[10] describe.

[11] equal.

[12] quickness.

[13] breastplate.

[14] comprehend.

[15] Achilles.

[16] together.

[17] see.

[18] interval of a fifth.

[19] nightingale.

[20] music.

[21] color.

[22] staggers.

[23] in fief.

[24] love.

[25] See Notes.

[26] See Notes.

[27] Fifteen, in other versions.

[28] Other versions say that the bridge grew wider and wider as Owain
passed over it.

[29] A stringed instrument.

[30] Here is a gap of two stanzas and more, pursuing the theme of Adam.

[31] See Notes.

[32] scarcely.

[33] refectory.

[34] ordinary.

[35] hermits.

[36] Thursday before Easter.

[37] griffin.

[38] with hair.

[39] See Notes.

[40] See Notes.

[41] See Notes.

[42] See Notes.

[43] See Notes.

[44] The four cardinal virtues: Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, and

[45] See Notes.

[46] See Notes.

[47] See Notes.

[48] See Notes.

[49] See Notes.

[50] According to G. Paris he played on cymbals and exhibited a monkey.

[51] See Notes.

[52] See Notes.

[53] See Notes.

[54] hedge-warden, over-seer.

[55] under-steward.

[56] wood-warden.

[57] religious orders.

[58] peasant.

[59] over-seers.

[60] wax for king's seal.

[61] salmon.

[62] implement for pruning.

[63] See Notes.

[64] See Notes.

[65] both.

[66] called.

[67] lady.

[68] time.

[69] bright, vigorous.

[70] same.

[71] forenoon.

[72] grafted.

[73] rubbed, wrung.

[74] rent.

[75] removed.

[76] ran.

[77] away.

[78] took.

[79] dear.

[80] thee.

[81] criest.

[82] shrill.

[83] before.

[84] complexion.

[85] eyes.

[86] very.

[87] since.

[88] must.

[89] directly.

[90] again.

[91] forest.

[92] places.

[93] taken.

[94] woe.

[95] lose.

[96] defence.

[97] taken.

[98] dole.

[99] order.

[100] lost.

[101] roam.

[102] woods.

[103] scarcely.

[104] together.

[105] pilgrim's robe.

[106] however.

[107] ease.

[108] discomfort.

[109] fur (variegated).

[110] fur (gray).

[111] linen.

[112] wraps.

[113] moss (?).

[114] grub.

[115] shrunken.

[116] rough.

[117] gather.

[118] at last.

[119] about.

[120] branch.

[121] accustomed.

[122] speedily (?).

[123] royal.

[124] grandly.

[125] front.

[126] adorned.

[127] dwellings.

[128] dark (?).

[129] sapphires are mentioned in one version.

[130] lying.

[131] head.

[132] had no arms.

[133] mad.

[134] drowned.

[135] withered.

[136] mad (?).

[137] sport.

[138] ceased.

[139] hue.

[140] therefore.

[141] lie.

[142] just now.

[143] warmly.

[144] quickly.

[145] people, land.

[146] went.

[147] harbor.

[148] cottage.

[149] bit.

[150] back.

[151] withered.

[152] players on the _crowd_, a kind of violin.

[153] ate.

[154] lost.

[155] given.

[156] hour.

[157] remedy.

[158] gracious.

[159] inn.

[160] awe.

[161] understood.

[162] table.

[163] quickly.

[164] indeed.

[165] named.

[166] called.

       *       *       *       *       *


Minor punctuation and printer errors repaired.

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_ and bold text by =equal signs=.

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